Part of the fun of international travel is exploring local delicacies. The funny part of international travel (at least for language-lovers like myself) is seeing how things are translated—or as often is the case, mistranslated. Got a taste for “spicy and weird soup” or “roast grandma”? Read on.

An overwhelming majority of tourists to Korea are from China, and Chinese translations of tourist information abound throughout the country.  The Korean Times article Lost in Chinese translation: Korean eatery serves ‘roast grandma’ cites a university study that reports 185 of 274 restaurants in popular tourist destinations had menus translated into Chinese. Of those, translation mistakes were rampant—in some areas, up to 43% of menu items were mistranslated.  But the most surprisingly finding from the study?

The university found that restaurants that asked an advertising company to translate their menus had more mistakes (35.5 percent) than those were the owners did the translation (23.1 percent).

I was happy to learn that multiple Korean organizations, including the Korean Tourism Organization, Korean Food Foundation and National Institute of Korean Language, provide suggested food translations, so it’s even more shocking to see that professional advertising agencies are missing the mark and so poorly representing their clients. Accurate translation is a crucial step in reaching out and engaging your multilingual markets, and when you hire an ad agency, you trust they’re going to do their absolute best to put your best face forward to potential clients.

Whether you’re in tourism, manufacturing, marketing, finance, healthcare, entertainment or dozens of other industries, don’t miss the chance to connect with your audience. Contact us for a quote or to learn more about our translation, transcription and interpretation services.

Interested in Korean food? Check out 40 Korean foods we can’t live without.  And certainly don’t make any more grandmothers sacrifice themselves in an effort to translate “pork with aged kimchi”!

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