Word geeks like translators and editors are always wittering on about poor translations or badly written web material being bad for business, because they make a company look sloppy or unreliable.

Well, I saw this belief in action during our recent trip to Lisbon. We needed to hire a car, and I asked my 16-year-old daughter, Olivia, to do some web research and find the best deal. In addition to the big names like Europcar and Avis she looked at the websites of some local firms recommended by our hotel (the lovely York House).

Olivia’s shortlist contained at least one local firm but she plumped for one of the big internationals, even though it was slightly dearer. When I asked her why, she explained that the local firms had mistakes in their English translations and didn’t provide enough information or contact details in their clunky-to-use websites. So she didn’t think we could trust them.

Teenage wisdom.

By Marian Dougan


3 Responses to “Want to look trustworthy? Write it right.”  

  1. 1 Heather Alexander (@heatheralex)

    Absolutely spot-on. What a great example!

  2. 2 Ruth Webber

    I agree entirely, though I don’t think all teenagers and others for that matter, would spot a typo it if bit them on the nose! If I receive an email with spelling mistakes it immediately undermines that sender’s credibility and sadly, many businesspeople, young and old are lacking in the spelling and grammar department. I find it ironic that companies spend so much money on their image and they don’t even realise that their written communications are letting them down and putting customers off. How to fix it? English language classes for all staff!

  3. 3 wordstogoodeffect

    Thanks, Ruth and Heather.
    I don’t mind the occasional typo in a work-related email, especially if it’s sent in a rush or from a Blackberry or similar.
    But newsletters and websites are no place for these mistakes. And yes, it’s such a contradiction to spend hundreds if not thousands of pounds on your website and branding and then fail to run a spell-check or ask someone to double-check the copy.
    In the case of translations, the clients often don’t have the language knowledge to see the mistakes – they put their trust in agencies or translators who then let them down. Which makes me really angry.

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