Tourists of the world! Do you still send postcards?
If so – and you’re visiting Britain – make sure you’re putting them in an actual post box.
The difference between your friends and family receiving your news and a scenic picture of our country depends on one vowel and some cultural knowledge.
LETTER and LITTER.
Yes, that’s right, a colleague of mine in Bristol noticed a Japanese tourist dropping a whole bunch of freshly written postcards into a litter (rubbish) bin.
He was too far away to run and stop them and what’s worse, it’s a regular occurrence.
Bristol city council have black litter bins with gold lettering spelling out the word ‘litter’ and then the name and logo of the council. And in a world where everything looks alien to you, it’s a seemingly easy mistake to make.
He’ll never know the reason why his postcards didn’t arrive.
Silly errors have ramifications and these kind of mistakes are happening all the time in business too.
A misspelt word here or there could mean the difference between a potential customer finding you on the internet. Or not.
It could reflect poorly on your reputation for taking care of the finer details.
It could mean the difference between securing a contract or losing the business. And you may never know why.
If you’re doing your own translations, please get a second person to check over your work. Ideally a native speaker who can add a bit of cultural insight if needed. A little extra effort can make a huge difference.
Don’t do the business equivalent of putting your postcards in the rubbish bin.