Most products go through an extensive series of developmental steps before they get anywhere near our shelves. The design is tweaked this way and that, colours and their implications considered, the look and feel is refined.
Yet all too often, translation is entrusted to someone who speaks the language “quite well”, or even “knows a bit of French”. Of all places, this truism jumped out at me once again while browsing for a pasta sauce. An elegantly designed box had the following English translation of the Italian cooking instruction:
To be charitable, perhaps this is a deliberately quaint piece of English, calculated to conjure stereotyped images of an Italian chef. It certainly makes a native English speaker stumble half way through the sentence, something that a quick (and inexpensive) professional Italian to English translation would have solved.
Either way, the sauce was delicious (tomato with bacon and speck in case you’re wondering).
Think carefully before entrusting your hard work to a home-brew translation or, if you’ll excuse the pun, you may find yourself jumping out of the frying pan and into the (bubbly) fire!