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Wrong Translation Makes Asda Offer 'Free Alcohol'


By Bob - Posted on 29 Augugst 2019


Wrong translations can often lead to complicated situations, sometimes funny ones, and other times even dangerous ones, when regarding a medical matter. A translator needs to be careful and ensure the translation is accurate and won’t mislead people or confuse them. This is why everyone needs to look for the best translation website when requiring a translation, and not settle for just anything they come across.

This is proven by a situation that happened at Asda. A sign was translated the wrong way, and if someone took it seriously, they would’ve thought they were offered some free products. Below you’ll find out more about the translation error at Asda.

What Happened?

The Cwmbran store ended up in a funny situation after the wrong translation of a sign. A sign was added to the drink area to direct shoppers to “alcohol-free beer” in Wales. However, the translators at the beer section made a mistake, writing “alcohol am ddim”, which translates to “alcohol for free”, instead of “di-alcohol” which would be the “alcohol-free” one.

As such, the sign made it to Twitter because, of course, it’s hard to abstain from making a funny post. Guto Aaron said on Twitter “Get yourself to Asda, according to their dodgy Welsh translators they are giving away free alcohol!”

Although aware of the mistake, Aaron was also able to look at the situation in a humorous way. “To be fair, for a private company, Asda’s signs are usually correct so when there is an unfortunate mistake like this, you just have to laugh” he declared. “At least they’ve turned their self-service checkouts to Welsh. I have much more of an issue with the way the sign looks than its content. They have chosen such a dark font for the Welsh to ensure it’s practically invisible from afar, it feels deliberate.

And still, this isn’t the first time Asda goes wrong with a translation. Actually, back in 2012, they had another similar incident which could have misdirected people if not replaced early enough.

The 2012 incident happened after a Scottish Gaelic sign was put in place, instead of a Welsh one. The sign said, “parcadh chiorramach a-mhain” which translated to “disabled parking only”. Luckily, it was quickly replaced, and a Welsh version of the sign was put in place.

How Was the Alcohol Situation Solved?

As soon as the customers pointed out the mistake done by the store, the retailer has made a statement, thanking customers who pointed it out. “We would like to thank our eagle-eyed customers for spotting this mistake, we hold our hands up and will be changing the signs in our Cwmbran store straight away. Whilst there won’t be free alcohol in stores this Easter weekend, we still have some cracking deals for our customers.”

Also, Mr. Aaron was not happy with the way people were blaming Google Translate on social media. “While far from perfect, that has improved a lot, and as it happens Google Translate is able to correctly translate “alcohol-free”, so how on earth Asda has ended up with “alcohol am ddim”, I don’t know.

And let’s be honest, a lot of customers would’ve been in awe if free alcohol was an actual offer, but it wasn’t a deal that the store wanted to make. So, the signs got replaced and the beer started being sold as it should be.

In the future, the people translating the signs in the store will probably pay more attention and double-check a translation before putting it on a sign.

How Could This Situation Have Been Avoided?

If you’re not a professional when it comes to translating words, sentences or phrases, mistakes are bound to happen. Especially if you’re not good at the language you’re translating in or from, then you can expect to make a mistake, which is not ideal if the translation should guide people.

The situation at Asda could have been avoided if a qualified and experienced translator was asked to translate the sign. The smallest difference in word arrangement can end up being translated in a totally different way, hence why you need someone with proper knowledge when this type of situation occurs.

Final Thoughts

The “free alcohol” sign at Asda would’ve misled a lot of people to eagerly grab some bottles of booze, then end up disappointed when finding out it was just a mistranslation. Thankfully, though, the mistake was spotted early enough by customers, and the store took measures and replaced the sign to make sure nobody would be misled.

Hopefully, no similar mistakes will be made in the future so customers won’t get the wrong idea, and the store wouldn’t have to make some additional work. Asda is a known store, so it’s safe to say people will not bash it for a simple mistake.



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