“THE VODKA IS STRONG BUT THE MEAT IS ROTTEN”
Believe it or not, this colourful phrase started out as “the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak”. In a clumsy mistranslation from English to Russian, it’s fair to say that willing or not, the spirit of the message has been lost
Abstract terms such as “spirit” are a major stumbling block for the inexperienced translator, and the negative knock-on effect for clients can be damaging. Many Wolfestone clients make good use of abstract language in their corporate brochures and marketing material. Marketing translations or technical translations which fail to convey the spirit of your message, or worse make it nonsensical, could hardly be more counter-productive.
A Wolfestone manager was recently reminded of the cultural pitfalls our clients face. In this country the simple act of showing five spread fingers with the palm facing out would be unlikely to provoke a reaction. In Greece, however, it would cause deep offence. Greek people refer to this gesture as “moutza” and it dates back to Byzantine times when prisoners were paraded with their faces covered in dirt, which was applied with their own palms. Centuries later it remains one of the most common gestures of insult among Greeks.
Some of the most successful British exporters have learned these cultural lessons the hard way. It’s our good fortune that Wolfestone clients are happy to share their knowledge with us and help others avoid the same mistakes .
The message we hear time and time again is a simple one: if you’re targeting a completely unfamiliar market, don’t go it alone. Even companies with market leading products have suffered costly failures overseas. A sizeable marketing budget can disappear before your eyes, with little or no impact on consumers.
At a recent export forum a British business leader told us of the time wasted and expense incurred by attending one indifferent event after another, before they finally formulated a strategy to target the most suitable markets and organise their own events. By choosing the right partners they were able to take control of their message and convey it clearly to who they wanted, when they wanted.
They might have reached their destination more quickly with the advice of OnSensor, a Wolfestone partner with an outstanding track record in helping emerging companies and emerging market governments to prosper by taking an integrated approach to communications strategy. As well as supporting prestigious private sector clients, OnSensor has developed national branding solutions, increasing tourism and attracting foreign investment for clients throughout the world. Satisfied customers include national governments on three continents. OnSensor has built a loyal client base by delivering a well-crafted, brand orientated and design-led product. Their guidance paves the way to a far-reaching public relations and branding strategy. As a translation service provider, Wolfestone is delighted to support OnSensor. As an information provider and an advocate of good business practice, we’re delighted to recommend them.
Wolfestone clients seeking to connect with consumers in unfamiliar countries can have their message shaped by translators and interpreters who actually live, work, buy and sell there. Our people are completely in tune with your target market because they’re part of it. And with partners whose global influence extends to national branding, we’re well placed to offer advice and guidance on any aspect of your strategy.
Of course you can go it alone, and we’ve all come across examples of businesses that succeeded without any outside support. But there are many more examples of businesses that succeeded by seeking out specialist advice and partnership at every stage.
At Wolfestone we believe in identifying trusted partners who share our values, and working closely with them to mutual advantage. Dynamic, ethical businesses such as OnSensor add value for their clients in all corners of the globe, and we’re proud to be associated with them.
Our principles and our partnerships ensure that when clients need our support, the spirit is definitely willing and nothing about the service is weak.
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