If you’re an Amazon Prime junkie, I don’t need to tell you that Tuesday was Prime Day. Your bank balance is probably enough of a reminder. For everyone else, Prime Day is Amazon’s self-created sales holiday, with deals on just about everything.
Amazon itself excels at localization. And we’ve held them up as an example of a company that gets it right.
But that’s not always true of the third-party sellers that offer their products in the Amazon marketplace. Product descriptions are provided by the sellers, not by Amazon. All too often, the sellers lack either the will or the resources to make quality translations a priority.
And the results can be hilarious, as these 6 examples of bad Prime Day translations prove. Here are a few of our favourites:
That Amorous Feeling
I mean, really, who wouldn’t want to adorn their house with a “decorative fish net of strong Mediterranean Sea amorous feelings?”
High on What?
From the product description: ” The speakers can create a soft-light, ocean waves like projection on the ceiling thus helping you create either a romantic, disco like or a spiritual setting that allows you to be more playful, high on spirit or thoughtful.”
High on spirit . . . right. Although to be honest, that light display is rather psychedelic. It’s easy to imagine a college student turning it on in their dorm room and getting “high on spirit.” Or something.
Not the Latest Radiohead Album Title
No, “Plastic Fake Green Grass of Plants with Pots” is not the latest Radiohead album. What’s odd about this one is that the item description itself is mostly right, if a little awkward in spots. Unfortunately, the title, which is the probably the most important part of the listing, didn’t fare so well.
Who You Gonna Call?
GHOSTBUSTERS! This mosquito trap lures unsuspecting Amazon shoppers with promises of nontoxic pest control, but leaves them needing the assistance of the Winchester brothers. At least, that’s the impression you get from the product description: “ operate in night or in low light environment, without external light source overshadowing bluish light output or disturbing spectral emission.”
“Spectral emissions?” I’m sure they meant “UV light.” But since the most common, well-known meaning of “spectral” is “ghostly,” it sounds more like this product rids your property of mosquitos using the unquiet souls of the dead.
The Soap Dispenser with Intellisense
“Non contact intellisense to avoid Bacteria cross infection,” to be precise. Just watch out for the “red radiation.” I don’t know about you, but that makes me a wee bit nervous.
And finally, saving the best for last . . .
Beware the Relentless Beaver
This may look like a simple pet toy to you. But it’s more than that. It’s actually a love story about a silent and “generally odorless” weasel “in love” with a ball, which is also being pursued by a “relentless beaver.” A love triangle, of sorts.
Apparently, I am a 12-year-old boy on the inside, because that here’s my reaction to all this talk of beavers, balls, and weasels:
Why Does This Matter?
If you do business with customers in more than one country, these product descriptions should leave you asking yourself, “How can I communicate with customers who don’t speak English without giving them the wrong impression?”
Multiple studies have shown that customers prefer to interact with businesses using their native language. But as we’ve seen, translation can be tricky. Just a few misplaced or mistranslated words can turn your website, product descriptions or advertising from compelling to unintentionally hilarious.
And that can subtly undermine potential customers’ trust in you. For some purchases, like fake plastic plants on Amazon, that might not matter so much. But for more expensive or more critical purchases, customer trust matters.
So, how do ensure this doesn’t happen to your business?
For customer-facing material, it’s best not to leave a computer in charge. Yes, machine translation can reduce the time and money you’ll spend on translation. But as you can see from these descriptions (and from the Holocaust victim costume incident earlier this year), without a well-thought-out process in place and some supervision from a human fluent in your target language, it’s all too easy to get into trouble.
An experienced translation company will partner with you to ensure your content comes through clearly and correctly for all the languages you do business in. Want to learn more? Find more information about our website translation services here, and feel to give us a call if you’d like to learn more!
And now, over to you: Did you buy anything for Prime Day this year? And do mistakes like these make you more hesitant to purchase a product online? Let us know in the comments!
1 thought on “6 Ridiculously Bad Translations from Amazon Prime Day”
I’m a senior copywriter with a passion for correcting these awkwardly-worded product descriptions. The question is… what company(ies) specialize in this? I’ve spent countless hours searching and come up empty-handed every time. Anyone?