This one almost doesn’t need an intro, but I’ll give you a brief rundown anyway. Translations are not always enough when you’re trying to reach an audience outside of your native culture. Online translation services are even worse. Different languages have different sentence structures, different word meanings, different grammar – straight translation doesn’t always account for these factors. Localization testing (typically with a native or fluent speaker) is key to ensuring that all the little things about a language are right. Unfortunately for McDonald’s, they didn’t get the localization memo. From The Consumerist:
McD’s says it was just trying to do something special for its Hmong customers [in St. Paul, MN] when it attempted to translate the slogan: “Coffee gets you up, breakfast gets you going.”
That effort isn’t going over well with members of the Hmong community who say it wasn’t written the way anyone actually speaks in the their language — apparently the billboards are missing spaces between words and the whole thing is just a garbled mishmash of nonsense that doesn’t mean a darn thing, reports CBS Minnesota.
So the next time you’re trying to reach a specific audience that speaks a different language, make sure you localize and don’t just “translate” (particularly with an online tool).