Don’t underestimate the preciseness required for Chinese translation! It can be dangerous to your brand if completed incorrectly, as Abercrombie and Fitch knows very well! One of their brown cargo pants for sale in their stores was labelled as 'Nigger Brown.'

The reason for such a racist description may have been the use of an out-of-date translation software, such as “Kingsoft.” The same disaster has happened before: back in 2007, a black Toronto couple found a tag on the underside of their sofa that described its colour as "nigger brown." When you type "dark brown" in Chinese into an older version of this Chinese-English translation software, the offensive description pops up as the correct translation. The  latest version of the “Kingsoft” software is supposed to have this issue resolved.

Such a mistake would interfere with the entire marketing campaign and the brand.  The question raised is how this big brand in America, Abercrombie and Fitch, let their Chinese manufacturer use a non-professional translation service.

Retail brands, in general, focus their campaign on visuals rather than on words.  Often, managing their translations for labels and new lines is a very low priority.  Although such a scenario may not affect those buyers that are price-driven, it is surely an embarrassing topic that will be associated with the company for years to come.  As a business, to grow your brand successfully, it’s vital to avoid every possible human error.

Don’t be fooled by the cheap Chinese translation services in the marketplace.  The Chinese language is easy to translate into or from when done literally, but it is difficult to master the subtleties.  Why is using a literal Chinese translation a problem? For a start, literal translation into Chinese from English would mean that Chinese people will struggle to read fast enough to understand. It’s definitely a big NO to rely on this method as a way of generating marketing script to catch buyers’ eyes.

Demographics are another major hurdle. If you are targeting Taiwan Chinese, for example, their buying culture, writing styles and phrasing are significantly different to those in Hong Kong.  Also, if you think Hong Kong now belongs to China and that the same Chinese language can be used to market in Hong Kong as in mainland China, then you are mistaken.  This is a big NO! For more information, read about “Hong Kong Chinese.”

The world is increasingly globalised and multicultural, so every mistake, as well as every success, goes live in split seconds. To be carried out successfully, cultural exchanges require more TLC and highly skilled linguists. To learn more, visit SanTranslate’s Chinese Translation Service page.

About Chinese Translations:

Traditional Chinese refers to Chinese characters in any character set which does not contain newly created characters or character substitutions performed after 1946. Along with Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese is one of the many standard character sets of the contemporary Chinese written language. Simplified Chinese characters are officially used in the People's Republic of China and Singapore. Traditional Chinese characters are currently used in Hong KongMacau and the Republic of China (Taiwan). Overseas Chinese communities generally use traditional characters, but simplified characters are often used among mainland Chinese immigrants. At SanTranslate, we are familiar with all the different written languages and all the different dialects (Cantonese, Mandarin, Shanghainese, etc.) and can help with you with any of your Chinese translation needs.