Bad Translations, Marketing and Hollywood…

And what they have in common…

Today we are looking at two very interesting articles about Translation. The first one is Bad translations as a marketing tool by Corinne McKay, in which she explains how freelance translators can pitch their freelance services to new clients by using client’s existing bad translations, without being offensive or too pushy.

She suggests applying the following 3 steps:

  1. Compliment the effort.
  2. Provide a carefully-worded reality check.
  3. Give them a little something for free.

We particularly liked Step 3. The translator could for instance improve their website or menu translation and send it to the company free of charge. Another idea was to use a bad (machine) translation as a marketing tool and send the client a table with three columns: an excerpt of the original, carefully crafted English version, their current “bad translation” (most likely Google translate plugin) and what the translator would consider a proper translation. The client will be delighted and happy to place new orders as it definitely pays off to provide some value for free before asking for anything!

Hollywood Film Titles

The second article, Hollywood movie titles lost in translation, is by Aron Heller, who explains the difficulty of translating film titles across the globe. He gives many interesting examples of past and recent film titles and how they were localised according to individual countries, languages and cultures, as was the case with the animated comedy film “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs”, which was translated into an Israeli as “It’s Raining Falafel” and into Turkish as “Raining Kofte,” which is a local version of the meatball.


Some of the translations are often amusing. No one can quite explain how “Terminator” became “Deadly Mission,” ”Alien” turned into “The 8th Passenger” or “Top Gun” morphed into “Love in the Skies.” Even the movie “Lost in Translation” was literally lost in translation. It was called “Lost in Tokyo.”

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