A word of caution against Google Translate!
Technology is a beautiful thing and in business it has become a game-changer: countless apps, widgets, programs and systems are now available to business people to make their work easier and more efficient.
Non-translators tend to spontaneously think of Google Translate when relating technology to translation.
Google Translate’s automatic translations may seem useful because they give internet users a general understanding of something written in a foreign language (e.g. when casually scanning the internet for information).
However, Google Translate should never be relied upon to generate meaningful and printable content. Not even to make what seems like minor changes to a previously translated text.
To illustrate just how badly it can fail us, we’ve used an example of a text readily available from the French language website of the fashion and cosmetics powerhouse Chanel:
We submitted the original French copy of this text to Google Translate and compared the results to the human translation.
It is quite noteworthy to point out that although the text was very short (50 to 75 words), Google Translate produced three completely nonsensical sentences:
- “His escalation of tensions” instead of “Facial tension slips away”;
- “Her muslin cotton soaked in warm water gently exfoliates and perfect cleaning” for what should have said “Moistened with warm water, its cotton cloth gently exfoliates and removes all traces of makeup”;
- The header “Benefits” was translated by “Earnings”.
Of course, the problems do not end there. We also have:
- a sentence missing a verb,
- a whole slew of rather awkwardly strung words,
- not to mention the fact that the product name (“Essential Comfort Cleanser”) was translated in two different ways (“Supreme Comfort Cleansing” and “Supreme Cleansing Comfort”).
So please, heed our warning: avoid the temptation of turning to Google Translate for any type of translation, no matter how insignificant. If changes are made to a document we have previously translated, we will be happy to go over them and make the necessary adjustments.
The skincare brand Olay originated in South Africa in the early 1950s. Invented by an ex-Unilever employee, the original product went by the name of Oil of Olay, chosen as a spin on its key ingredient “lanolin”. The thick pink liquid was marketed as an anti-aging ‘beauty fluid’ and in the 1970s the range expanded to include other types of skincare products.
In the 1980s, Oil of Olay was acquired by Proctor & Gamble and in 2000 the group decided to take it global. So the name was modified in each country to sound “pleasing to consumers”: Oil of Ulay (UK and Ireland), Oil of Ulan (Australia) and Oil of Olaz (France, Italy, the Netherlands and Germany).
P&G eventually streamlined the brand under a global name, removed the possibly misunderstood word “oil” and eliminated many of the name variations. According to P&G, “the original name no longer fit with what women have come to expect from Olay — a light, greaseless formula.
Today, there’s just “Olaz” (in German-speaking countries) and “Olay” (everywhere else).
Drop us a note, if you’d like to share other similar stories of geo-specific brand names in the field of beauty! We’d love to hear from you!
Anthony Burgess, the prolific British novelist, composer, librettist, playwright, screenwriter, essayist, travel writer, translator and critic, who is best remembered for his novel “A Clockwork Orange,” once said:
“Translation is not a matter of words only: it is a matter of making intelligible a whole culture.”
What we take away from this is that translation goes far beyond the transfer of meaning (never mind the simplistic idea of “switching” words between languages). In its broadest form, it involves bridging two cultures; in marketing more specifically, it is about making the corporate culture of a business comprehensible to another, culturally-distinct audience that is different from the brand’s intended, original target.
It will be hard to find another client with a mantra more in tune with our beliefs. Skyn Iceland’s genesis and purpose are so much like our own that we feel a particular kinship with their entire concept. And we believe that nowadays every woman out there is likely to appreciate the brand’s healing philosophy behind its products.
Skyn ICELAND was born from a life-changing mission to treat and alleviate the effects of stress on skin while promoting a stress-free life full of balance, health and wellness. The company’s founder, Sarah Kugelman, transformed her own experience of stress, which left her hospitalized, with a weakened immune system, into a personal journey to find harmony between inner and outer beauty. That journey took her quite literally to Iceland, a pure, pristine place of great beauty and peace, whose people impressed her with their incredible longevity and vibrant, healthy skin.
Having chosen a career in a fast-paced environment where deadlines are forever looming over our heads, we too have each had our share of work-related stress. And illness. That’s why we also recognize and can personally attest to the tremendous impact of stress on internal health. Our goals are therefore very much in alignment with Skyn Iceland’s.
We work daily to maintain a pleasant, stress-free and wholesome working environment that promotes respectful relationships with our clients, collaborating linguists and writers alike. We value kindness and consideration, politeness and good manners. We stand for fairness, honesty and integrity. And we love having healthy-looking skin!
I scored: 37. A great accomplishment but, believe it or not, a few years back this score would have been through the roof!
“How do you do it? Surely you live in some pastoral setting with no phone, no computer and minimal obligations. Or is it possible you’ve simply trained yourself to let things go and focus on what’s important in life? We bet you eat well and drink lots of water, exercise regularly, get enough rest, and make time for friends and family, right? Bravo! Now just round out your amazing lifestyle with Glacial Face Wash and the ANTIDOTE Quenching Daily Lotion and you will be our hero!”
A portmanteau word combining fiction and commercial, a fictomercial is a book, tv show or any other piece of creative writing in which a company pays the writer to incorporate its products into the story. It is part of a trend to use non-traditional ways to promote products and has become a burgeoning business for writers over the last fifteen years.
Why? Because advertisers are always looking to make people see things in different ways. They like to take existing concept in new directions, making up new words along the way (like fictomercial, advertorial, jeggings or masstige).
As a side note, fictomercials are referred to as “publifiction” in French.
A quick overview of what our beauty industry clients can expect from working with Beautyterm cosmetic translation experts – from project inception to followup.
We are very proud of our clients on display at the exclusive Colette concept store located in one of the chicest Parisian neighborhoods. Joëlle Ciocco was launched by L’Oréal Paris Global Facial Expert of the same name, who created the famous Epidemiology® Method. Nuori brings its revolutionary skincare concept of optimized product freshness while the breakthrough Colbert MD line is a newcomer to the French market. A favorite of Angelina Jolie and Rosie Huntington-Whitely, Dr. Colbert is known for The Triad Facial, an intense 30-minute treatment combining exfoliation, lasers and a chemical peel.