Language Insight is continuing to expand its translation service offering, with automotive translation the latest new language service on offer.

The automotive supply chain is one of the largest in the world and each one typically spans various continents. Several manufacturing plants based in different countries can be used to make the parts for one car. Once it is off the production line, that vehicle can go on to be sold at showrooms across the world. As a result, it is virtually impossible for such a supply chain to work efficiently without translation and interpreting services.

Automotive translation is what ensures that a user manual includes the same vital content in dozens of different languages. It’s what makes sure a promotional campaign works the way it is supposed to when the car is launched in a new market. Basically, it’s what helps a vehicle become a household name.

Translation is not something to be overlooked when it comes to the transport sector. Some of the most famous examples of marketing messages that failed because of a poor translation have involved the automotive industry.

For instance, General Motors was left red-faced when it launched its LaCrosse in Canada and discovered that in French-speaking Quebec the model name was slang for self-pleasuring, according to the BBC. Amazingly, this is not the first time this slip-up has been made, with Mitsubishi discovering Pajero, the name of one of its models, meant self-gratification in many Spanish-speaking countries.

Meanwhile, Ford took a misstep when it launched its Pinto in Brazil and discovered “pinto” is Brazilian-Portuguese slang for male genitals – although this is a story shrouded in urban legend. Moving away from the slightly blue examples, one of the most famous vehicle name mistranslations is that of General Motors’ Nova. In Spanish, “no va” means something akin to “doesn’t go”, which probably isn’t the slogan GM wanted to market its car with in Central and South America.

It’s not only automobile manufacturers that have been tripped up by translations. Air carrier Braniff Airlines was also left blushing when it decided to show off about its new leather seats as part of a marketing campaign for First Class travel in Mexico. Unfortunately, its “fly in leather” slogan translated to “fly naked”.

When an automotive company is spending thousands, or even millions, on launching one of its products in a new market, to have to start from scratch all because of a mistranslation is not only embarrassing – it could also cost that firm dearly. Language Insight’s automotive translation service has been tailor-made for the transport sector to ensure slip-ups like these are never an issue.

One way we achieve this is by assigning linguists to projects based on their prior industry experience, as well as their language qualifications. If a translator has worked in the automotive industry before, they will have a deep understanding of the technical language used by the sector and how to correctly translate it.

Where possible, an automotive translation will also be assigned to a linguist who is based in the same country as the market the brand is targeting. This is part of the process known as localisation.

Localisation goes further than simply translating a document word by word from one language to another. It takes into account all the latest updates in your target language including slang. For instance, if a car manufacturer wants to launch a model in Brazil and a native Brazilian-Portuguese speaker who lives in the country is chosen to translate the promotional campaign, they will see straight away if a particular slogan is going to mean something different from what is intended. They can then flag this up and allow the marketing department to come up with something else before they waste large sums launching the wrong campaign.

Typography and units of measurement are just a couple of the additional aspects that are taken into account when localising an automotive marketing campaign. The whole process means that the finished advert is understood by the target market in the exact way the marketing department intended. If successful, this will then translate into sales.

Find out more about Language Insight’s automotive translation service here. We are unveiling new translation services all the time, so check the “Other Services” tab regularly to see what’s new.