Posted on April 21, 2016 · Posted in German Translations

So you think your business doesn’t need a German translator and you can handle it on your own? Let’s see if you can pass our quiz (kein Stress):

Question 1:

The following terms are all greetings in different German-speaking countries. Which term is spoken in which country?

Grüezi, Grüß Gott, Guten Tag

Question 2:

What’s the difference between the following farewells?

Auf Wiedersehen, Uf Widerluege, Auf Wiederschauen

Question 3:

You’re in Vienna and want to order some potatoes with your Schnitzel. Which is word will make you sound like a local?

  1. Herdöpfel
  2. Erdapfel
  3. Kartoffel

Now go and compare your answers with the key at the end.

We realize that as a business owner, you might not care for the intricate differences found in dialects. But your consumers do. And if you want to market to them effectively, you need to respect the local language.

Now let’s see what would happen if Google Translate took our quiz. For Question 1, Google says that the “hello” translates to “hallo.” Any German speaker will know that “hallo” is a universal greeting, but it’s considered informal in certain places. It’s more polite to use one of the choices we provided.

When we type “Good Bye” in, Google Translate shows “A bientot.” This isn’t German, first of all, it’s French. And although it may be used locally, it’s not the standard farewell.

And finally, Google translates “potato” to “Kartoffel” for Question 3, which is right in Germany. It gets partial credit there.

There are two main takeaways here. First, you need to understand that local dialects are important to people. You can’t just use the same marketing campaigns in Hamburg and in the mountains of Austria. And this isn’t just exclusive to German, either. It wouldn’t be wise to use the exact same phrases in Barcelona and Lima.

The second is that Google Translate is not a reliable tool for businesses. If you translate your website content with it, then you might wind up saying something completely different to your target audience.

To talk more about hiring a German translator, or anything else, please contact us. Thanks.

Answer Key:

Question 1: Switzerland, Austria, Germany

Question 2: They’re High German, Swiss German, and Austrian German, respectively.

Question 3: B. Erdapfel