Most interesting facts about translation


Translation is not merely an interlinguistic process. It is more complex than replacing source language text with target language text and includes cultural and educational nuances that can shape the options and attitudes of recipients. It is complex process and every little mistake can be costly. Especially, when it comes to certified translation. We prepared for you the most incredible facts about translation. Some facts can really surprise you.

1.    The most translated website in the world


Translating websites has become vital part of every business. There are literally millions of websites in Internet which provide access in several languages. But which of those is the most translated website in the world? Would you dare to make a guess? Apple? Google? Wikipedia? Try it, but the result can surprise you.

The most translated website in the Internet is the official website of JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES! Would you believe that? 

At present, the website is accessible in exactly 854 different languages and 100 sign languages. Impressive, isn’t it?

The website leaves far behind the other ones. Wikipedia is a second most translated website current of 291 available languages, Google’s search engine is available in 149 languages while Apple’s website was translated into 129 languages.

How come that such relatively small religious group has made such great effort to make their website available in so many languages?

If you make a research on this group’s beliefs and their worldview, it makes indeed great sense for translating the website in many languages. For Jehovah’s Witnesses crucial pillar is to provide access to Watchtower’s publications ( Jehovah’s Witnesses Headquarter in USA). In order to be active participant of Jehovah’s Witnesses, one has to be able to read the publications, and translating them into adherent’s own language is necessary to belong to the religion.




Thanks to continuous globalization process have contributed significantly to the fast development of language service industry. The industry includes

·      translations - text to text, certified translation

·      Interpretation (speech-to speech translation),

·       language training,

·      testing,

·      machine translations


According to the statistics(, the size of the language services industry reached over 45 billion U.S dollars and it’s estimated to reach almost 56.2 billion just by 2021.


3.    The most expensive translation error in the world


HSBC Holding is a multinational bank, based in United Kingdom. In 2009, the bank launched a new marketing campaign under the slogan

 ’’Assume nothing’’ which encouraged some people to ‘’Do Nothing’’. This was direct consequence of very simple translation mistake. The tagline was supposed to be ‘’Assume Nothing’’ but it unfortunately didn’t work out in translation. The slogan was translated in many countries to ‘’Do Nothing’’.


The company was forced to rebrand its entire global private banking operations. This small mistake has cost the bank 10 million U.S Dollars. Today, company’s tagline is ,,The world’s private bank’’ which is much easier to translate.  


Unfortunately, HSBC is not alone and history knows more cases like that. Worth to mention is mistranslation made by Electrolux concern. This Scandinavian company made hilarious error while translating its marketing slogan to English. Thinking the slogan highlight vacuum’s power, Electrolux focused its marketing campaign on the slogan ‘’Nothing sucks better like an Electrolux’’. Grammatically the slogan is fully correct, but the meaning can be different.



4.    The most tragic linguistic error


The linguistic errors are occurring often in translations. Some of them cause no damage to the translation – in sense of changing its meaning, whereas some can lead to catastrophic consequences and cost people’s lives. The case of mistranslation on the Japanese word ‘’mokusatsu’’ has cost 250,000 lives.


In July 1945 in Postdam, the political leaders of Russia, UK and USA has met to establish the declaration of surrender terms and they were patiently awaiting the response from Japan. The terms have contained the statement which was saying that any negative answer would cause prompt and utter distraction.


 In July of 1945 allied leaders meeting in Potsdam submitted a stiffly-worded declaration of surrender terms and waited anxiously · for the Japanese reply. The terms had included a statement to the· effect that any negative answer would invite "prompt and utter destruction." Truman, Churchill, Stalin, and Chiang Kai-Shek stated that they hoped that Japan would agree to surrender unconditionally and prevent devastation of the Japanese homeland and that they patiently awaited Japan's answer. Reporters in Tokyo questioned Japanese Premier Kantaro Suzuki about his government's reaction to the Potsdam Declaration. Since no formal decision had been reached at the time, Suzuki, falling back on the politician's old standby answer to reporters, replied that he was withholding comment. He used the Japanese word mokusatsu, derived from the word for "silence." As can be seen from the dictionary entry quoted at the beginning of this essay, however, the word has other meanings quite different from that intended by Suzuki. Alas, international news agencies saw fit to tell the world that in the eyes of the Japanese government the ultimatum was "not worthy of comment." U. S. officials, angered by the tone of Suzuki's statement and obviously seeing it as another typical example of the fanatical Banzai and Kamikaze spirit, decided on stern measures. Within ten days the decision was made to drop the atomic bomb, the bomb was dropped, and Hiroshima was levelled.