Liability in Translation: "Glossary, glossary, glossary"

Mar 3, 2016

Hmm, this being 2016 and an election campaign in the Americas in full swing, like many others we also want to emphasize the importance of good glossaries to get statements right and avoid blunders. Built rightly, glossaries help the "poor" translator and others to adhere to preferred terminology, and they prevent use of synonymous terms and expressions that clients and others want to avoid.

The classic Battery Example

Did you know that in many languages there are different words for a battery that can be charged and a battery that cannot – and must not – be charged? It is actually a safety issue.

In Dutch, for example, a non-chargeable battery is a "batterij", while one that can be charged is an "accu". In a car, you do not have a "batterij", and in a remote controller you most likely do not have an "accu", unless you spend time charging those batteries yourself. This concept applies to a lot of other languages.

In technical English, these batteries do have different names, but most people tend to disregard this and simply use the term battery. [The professional English term for a non-chargeable battery is a 'primary battery', while the version that can be charged is a 'secondary battery'.]

"Liability, liability, liability"

In the end, if during translation an issue like this is disregarded, the resulting outcome can become extremely costly. Liability claims is one thing, but some manufacturers have gone to the extreme to redesign technical solutions because of stated claims, others have conceded that translations were wrong and have issued new documents to replace old ones with all the inconveniences involved.

These issues include pedals in passenger cars, batteries in trucks, lighting in normal homes, and there are a lot more. We all now know why microwave ovens and driers suddenly got to include warnings not to dry our pets in the products.

Professional help

In the end, relying on professional solutions with human translators and not machines, you can save more than a buck – probably the whole future of your enterprise. And we have fantastic technologies to keep those charges for translation and glossary maintenance in check.
We will keep you posted of potential issues we come across and we like to go the extra mile to ensure your documents are translated correctly.