Quality Translation Needs Time – A Case Study of an International Product Recall

Last Updated On: February 7, 2018

inGeneral, Translation Skills

Quality Translation Needs Time

Quality Translation Needs TimeSituation

A company has been told to issue a recall on a soft toy marketed to children because the material the product is made from is not fire resistant and a child had died while holding the soft toy at a family barbecue when a spark from the fire ignited the toy and quickly spread to the child’s clothing delivering such severe burns to her body that she could not survive.



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    When a recall takes place and the product has reached every corner of the globe instructions for the recall have to be translated into all the languages of the likely recipients. The first challenge is to identify exactly which country this product was sent to. Once this has been assessed the translation services business in Australia will have to contact all their translators and get them started immediately on the job. A recall has to take place as quickly as possible before any more deaths or injuries take place. It normally takes a professional translation services translator one working day to translate accurately 2,500 words. This doesn’t sound like many words and it isn’t, but no quality translator can rush a translation otherwise mistakes can be made that could affect the translator’s reputation, especially if there is any ambiguity in the translation.

    In the case of a product recall the translator has to use plain language so that all potential targets of the recall will quickly understand what the product is and what injuries it could cause.

    Plain language is everyday language usage but when a translation from one plain language to another takes place it’s as complicated as a technical document. Any incorrect word usage could affect the overall meaning of the translation and the message about the product recall could be unsuccessful. Most professional translation services in a matter as important as a product recall will insist that each of the translations are thoroughly proofread for accuracy.


    To ensure a successful outcome to this translation the translation agency in Australia must firstly have the product recall document correctly written out in the 1st language so the translators all get a copy. The translators must know who their target audience is likely to be so that appropriate language can be used, a deadline time or date for all translators must be set to fit in with the length of the translation. Once the translations have been submitted they need to be handed over to the client.

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