Should I have a German translation of my website?

Do I really need one?

Yes, no, maybe!

If you are selling your products or services to the English market, then you do not need to have your website translated. Anybody who does not speak English but comes across your website, can use google translate and if they really wanted your services, they’ll be in contact somehow.
Look at my website; my services are for English speakers, as I help with German tuition and translation, therefore my website is only in English. Any German speaker, who comes across my site but doesn’t understand enough English would need to use google translate. The translation is absolutely appalling, as google even translates German words into (other) German words!

Confused? I was when I checked it, and it’s my own website! 

I can’t do anything about any internet translations and as I am hoping for English clients I don’t need a translation of everything on my site. So I’ve done a compromise: I have added one page in German, where I give a brief overview about my services in German. That page has been translated properly and isn’t in google gobbledegook 😉

If, however, you are selling to the German market, then your website should be translated into German by a professional translator.
Imagine you are selling those much quoted ‘widgets’:

I’m selling widgets = Ich verkaufe Widgets (good google translation)
Our widgets are made to measure = Unsere Widgets sind nach Maß (also good)
If these widgets aren’t your cup of tea, contact us = Wenn diese Widgets nicht Ihre Tasse Tee, kontaktieren Sie uns.

Now it gets interesting: google has missed out the verb and doesn’t understand the idiom of ‘it’s not my cup of tea’. Any Germans reading the German text would be wondering what the widgets have to do with cups of tea. Basically, ‘google translate’ copes reasonably well with simple sentences, but as soon as they get more complicated, it struggles.

So, if you only sell in your own country, then you do not need a translation of your website (and you most likely would not have been interested in my blog anyway ;-))   Many thanks for still reading!

If you may get (and would like) German prospective clients to read your website, then think about a possible one page overview of your products/ services.

If you are hoping to export to Germany, then please invest in a translator who translates your website professionally – and don’t leave it to google!

I leave you with some badly translated words which I have seen:

  •  Drink drive campaign = trinken Laufwerk Kampagne (Laufwerk is the translation for a computer drive) 
  • Competition = Konkurrenz (this is your competitor, not the wonderful competition you are hoping people will enter) 
  •  Ruler = Herrscher (seen on a lovely classroom display about school items, but ‘Herrscher’ is another word for monarch!)

Can anybody add to this list?

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