Lost in translation (and in my brain)

Alan Pringle / Humor1 Comment

Last night, a bit of spam managed to worm its way through the filters on a personal email account, and I have to admit I glanced at the content while scanning previews of messages. That’s when I spotted a paragraph that really jumped out at me:

They have good management systems, product quality inspection system. And international speedboat (EMS) is the door – door accurate! Soon!

My thought process was, What’s up with the international speedboats? And why are emergency medical services (EMS) using these speedboats? I knew that the person who wrote the content was likely not a native English speaker, but I could not figure out what the writer was trying to communicate.

This morning, I finally realized what the message was trying to say: the company uses EMS worldwide delivery services for prompt and accurate delivery to my door. My brain must not have been firing on all cylinders last night when I thought EMS meant “emergency medical services.”

I don’t think I’ve ever spent as much time thinking about a company’s marketing message, but my thoughts weren’t about using the company’s services–I was merely trying to comprehend the message itself. That’s not what the company intended, I’m sure.

Marketing for a global audience–particularly one that associates EMS with “emergency medical services”–is not an easy thing!

About the Author

Alan Pringle

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Content strategy consulting. Publishing (electronic and print). Eating (preferably pastries and chocolate). COO at Scriptorium.

One Comment on “Lost in translation (and in my brain)”

  1. I have that problem with developers. Even though all our customers are native english speakers, there quite a difference in education levels as well as regional language differences. Developers cannot seem to understand the need for simple and consistent language use, as well as consistency in the GUI. It is an onging battle. Unfortunately I am “just a tech writer”, and that sort of thing “should not concern me”.

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