The Consequences of One Bad Document Translation

Professional human translation is critical in the business world, especially when legal or business decisions will be made based off the translated documents.  A company also needs to be sure that qualified translators are utilizing a multi-step, thorough quality control process that will catch any linguistic or technical errors that may impact the accuracy of the final translation. One badly translated sentence in a key document can harm the financial and professional image of a company, as illustrated in a recent incident involving Sharp Corp., described by Daisuke Wakabayashi in the Wall Street Journal blog Japan Realtime in a post titled “Sharp Statement Lost in Translation.”  The post tells how the English translation of a quarterly earnings report for Sharp Corp needed to be amended due to a single sentence which said that “‘material doubt’ existed about its status as a going concern,” thereby indicating the threat of liquidation for Sharp Corp in the near future.

Continue reading to learn about the consequences from a single poorly translated sentence in Sharp Corp’s quarterly earnings report, and learn how to avoid this type of translation error in your own technical and legal documents!

Sharp Corp’s Translation Error
According to Daisuke Wakabayashi’s post at the WSJ blog Japan Realtime, a poorly translated sentence in a quarterly earnings report for the electronics company Sharp Corp. threatened the financial image of the business:

The electronics giant said in its quarterly earnings report released Thursday that “material doubt” existed about its status as a going concern. Four days later, Sharp was furiously backpedaling.

The company announced Monday that it was amending the English translation of a key paragraph in its going concern warning. It took out the reference to having “material doubt” and softened the language around the warning, saying it wanted to be more precise about its status.

The original translation used the following wording:

Therefore, Sharp is in circumstances in which material doubt about its assumed going concern is found.

Whereas the updated translation states:

Therefore, there exist conditions which might raise uncertainties about Sharp being an assumed going concern. However, we judge that no uncertainties about Sharp’s ability to continue as a going concern will exist. The countermeasures described below are thought to resolve such conditions.

The original translation raised significant doubts about the ongoing existence of Sharp Corp as a functioning financial entity, and the updated translation may not be able to allay the fears of investors, stockholders, and potential customers and business partners.

How Can You Avoid Translation Errors?

Translation buyers can avoid costly translation errors by utilizing the services of a high-quality professional translation service which hires only qualified technical translators and utilizes a thorough quality control process to check for both linguistic and technical accuracy.  In the case of Landon IP Translation Services, our translators are first rigorously evaluated, interviewed, and tested, based on a process designed by Landon to meet the high quality requirements of the patent industry.  Landon IP is a member of the American Translators Association and hires only native-language technical translators who are also subject matter experts, so the resulting legal, technical, and patent translations will  be of a high quality both linguistically and technically.  Landon IP translation services also utilizes a proprietary quality control process called QuadCheckTM to review all translations, which will be edited and proofread by native-language speakers to check for linguistic accuracy and reviewed by Landon IP’s in-house technologists for the accuracy of technical terms and phrasing. Sharp Corp. faces an uphill battle to mend their financial image due to one poorly translated sentence, but companies can avoid this problem simply by acquiring an accurate translation initially.

Do you know of a case where a single poor translation caused legal or financial trouble for a company? Let us know in the comments!

Technical Translations from Landon IP

This post was contributed by Joelle Mornini. The Intellogist blog is provided for free by Intellogist’s parent company Landon IP, a major provider of patent searches, trademark searches, technical translations, and information retrieval services.

4 Responses

  1. […] One bad document translation can cost a company dearly, and this has been clearly demonstrated again by Special Master Peterson. Gale R. Peterson is also a faculty member of Patent Resources Group, the leading provider of U.S. patent bar review and advanced U.S. patent law education, and a fully-owned subsidiary of Landon IP. […]

  2. poor translation can caused legal or financial trouble for a company

  3. Any of the poor translated document can leave a bad impression of the company.

  4. Good point. Yes, it’s really important for you to get all your documents accurately translated to avoid any unwanted outcomes. It could cause wrong decision making or a false perception of the text. This is even a more serious matter when translating business documents, legal documents and medical documents. So, it is always best to choose your translators wisely.

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