Translation and Language Industry Observations

Last week we received the following email from a potential customer. This is what he wrote:

I hope that all is well. My name is Anthony and I lead our regulatory/compliance efforts at XYZ Parfums. We’re developing some new aftershave products, and need to have “aftershave” translated into a few different languages for packaging for international sales. Could I trouble you for a quote to translate “aftershave” into the following languages? Arabic, Bulgarian, Chinese, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Estonian, Finnish, German, Greek, Hungarian, Italian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Maltese, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Serbian, Slovenian, Spanish, Swedish.

We could have quoted Anthony a price for this, but instead I will show you (and Anthony) how to do this for free using Google Translate and Google Images. And this method is nearly foolproof, which means that the result is almost guaranteed to yield perfect results. I would however like to add the following disclaimers.

  1. This workflow will work effectively for short terms that are widely used worldwide. It may not work well for industry- or country-specific terms.
  2. If you are going to use these translations to launch a million dollar ad campaign, I would recommend turning to a professional translation company to double check.

Let’s start with the first language: Arabic.

Google Translate returned this translation for the word “Aftershave” in Arabic: بعد الحلاقة. Is this the correct translation? Let’s check.

The first thing we’ll do is plug the word “بعد الحلاقة” into Google, using the quotation marks to check for exact matches. You can check the result here. Google returned 2,440,000 results. Wow, that is a lot! Which is a first indication that we struck pay dirt. Because if Google returns a paltry number of results for a word like Aftershave, then something is probably off in the translation. A further look into the top SERPs reveals company names like Gillette and Nivea which are top cosmetic companies. We are feeling even more confident about the translation. Now, let’s plug “بعد الحلاقة” into Google Images.

Now we can be 100% confident that we have found the correct Arabic translation for the term After shave.

Another good way to check is to use Microsoft’s search engine Bing. For example, when you search for the Chinese term for aftershave 须后水, this is what you get:

Bing displays the Wikipedia entry for aftershave, which proves that this is the correct translation.

Here is the entire list that Anthony requested, all of the terms translated by Google for free. I want to repeat that if you are using these translations for customer-facing purposes, it would best to translate the terms with a professional translation service to be 100% safe. GTS specializes in professional translation services for the cosmetics industry.

Arabic بعد الحلاقة
Bulgarian афтършейв
Chinese 须后水
Croatian losion poslije brijanja
Czech voda po holení
Danish efterbarbering
Dutch aftershave
Estonian aftershave
Finnish partavesi
German aftershave
Greek aftershave
Hungarian borotválkozás utáni
Italian dopobarba
Latvian pēc skūšanās
Lithuanian po skutimosi
Maltese wara t-tqaxxir
Polish płyn po goleniu
Portuguese loção pós-barba
Romanian after-shave
Serbian афтерсхаве
Slovenian po britju
Spanish aftershave
Swedish rakvatten

Related Post from the GTS Blog:

How to Get Cheap Translation Services

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