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Lost in translation – a cliché of our times

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communication-1Lost in translation – the cliché that had new life breathed into it by the movie of the same title – aptly captures what happens when people try to communicate across language barriers and it all goes belly up. Often the cause of amusement – from political gaffes to brand name flops to simple mistranslations, written and spoken.

But joking apart, the cliché has taken on a more serious association: overcoming cultural and language barriers has become one of the most critical issues of our time, both locally and globally.

Communicating across language barriers is no longer a task for just politicians, businessmen and soldiers. Most of us now come across people from different countries as a matter of course in our daily lives. You are now just as likely to hear Polish or Czech in any major city as you are in Warsaw or Prague.

Translation and interpreting services and language training have in the last fifty years grown into a huge global industry as businesses strive to operate internationally as well as at home.

As the world becomes a smaller place, the need to communicate effectively between languages will continue to grow. Governments and world organisations such as the UN and EU assign huge budgets for interpreters and translators. Even military troops carry translation gadgets for foreign postings. Businesses wishing to succeed on a global level no longer think twice about translating their marketing materials and web sites. And in today’s unstable economic climate, why not optimise your chances of commercial survival by marketing to other countries?

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