It’s critical to give your translator clear instructions

Ensure you tell the linguist what you mean

It is important to give the translator specific and detailed instructions to avoid any mistakes – sometimes, embarrassing ones! For instance, in 1991, a competitive fighting game called Street Fighter II: The World warrior launched in Japan. It was a sequel to an arcade game released a few years before.

The translator didn’t know the context

When translation was done from Japanese into English, the translator only got the text. He had no idea of what was really going on on the screen. He (or she) had to translate the following sentence: “If you cannot overcome the Rising Dragon Punch, you cannot win!”. The Japanese characters for “Rising Dragon” were interpreted by the translator as “Sheng Long”. The translator thought a new character called Sheng Long was being introduced!

It drove gamers crazy!

Gamers went wild trying to find this non-existent character. The year after, a famous gaming magazine carried out an April Fool’s joke. They published a series of complex instructions to find Sheng Long. Obviously to no avail… a good laugh, though.

I wonder how many hours were thus wasted!

Are translators psychic?

It is amazing how some clients can assume the translator knows what is inside their head. We aren’t famous for being psychic – although I think you develop it a bit over the years…