Avoiding Disaster in Direct Translations

As you set off to expand your company into a new international market, you will find that translating your website into your target market’s primary language is one of the most important first steps you can make.

There is a temptation to throw your website text into a translation software and use that information as your translated document, but direct translations like this can be a disaster.

Here are a few ways a direct translation can harm your business and a few ways to avoid them entirely.


One of the clearest ways direct translations can harm your business is by providing only a surface understanding of the text you wanted translated. In essence, direct translations don’t take context into mind. A sentence in English may translate to something very different in Thai, but the only way to know what the sentence is supposed to say is by taking context into mind.

Another way direct translations can harm your business is by providing accurate translations to idioms in your native language. For example, “hit the books” is a popular American idiom. If this is literally translated into another language, it won’t make much sense to people living outside of the U.S. Direct translations will translate document information word for word, which can cause confusion and misunderstanding.

Speaking of which, a final reason why direct translations can harm your business is by providing information that doesn’t make much sense. Because the information is directly translated without context taken into mind, a person in your target market may not be able to understand what your company has to offer with its products and services. Studies show that customers who don’t understand this information on a company’s website will give up and find another company that they can understand more clearly.


One way to avoid a disaster brought on by direct translations is to use simple and concise sentences to convey information about your company and its services or products to your customer. This means that you should avoid idioms and sayings that aren’t internationally understood. It also means that you should avoid walls of text. Instead, you can try using graphics and pictures to describe your services and products.

Meet with a bilingual member of your market’s community who can tell you if there are any words or phrases to avoid. Remember, when you begin to localize, it is about adapting your company to the culture of your market just as much as it is about translating words.

The best way, however, to assure that your company doesn’t fall victim to disastrous direct translations is to hire a competent translator. An experienced translator will look past the literal meaning of the words in your desired market’s language and will look for the context behind the words.


If you’re looking for a great translator in Malaysia, VEQTA is here to help. With representation in Malaysia, Thailand, and Singapore, VEQTA can help you localize your website text and other business content in more than 50 languages.

Each translation or localization project includes a team of skilled professional translators, a project manager, and a point of contact who will keep you updated throughout your translation project. The translators with VEQTA live locally in the areas of your target market, so they use the language daily in their interactions with your future customers and clients.

For more information, or to request a quote, visit the main site, VEQTA.com, and fill out the contact form. You can also email VEQTA at info@veqta.com.

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