One sentence can ruin everything

Astonishing, isn’t it? Organisations and companies spend a lot of money on producing something like an attractive brochure or website in a foreign language to promote themselves. But never give a thought to getting someone who speaks the language (like Gary and me!) to read through the text and check for mistakes and howlers.

I liken it to someone who has spent a lot of dosh on a nice suit to make a good impression, but hasn’t noticed that they have a large stain on their tie. The person they are meeting spends all the time looking at the stain and doesn’t notice anything else.

And the more perfect everything else is, the more that stain is going to stand out

My pal, Steve gave me a great example of this. A few years back he was visiting a delightful Austrian hotel with its own farm. The hotel manager was (quite rightly) very proud. He showed Steve the new brochure they’d just had printed.

It was a top-notch job. Until he started reading it that is. One sentence really stuck in his throat. The hotel was very proud of serving their own farm produce in the restaurant. They’d written:

“All the farm animals are personally slaughtered by the staff.”

Oops! The cosiness suddenly disappeared out of the window. Instead of an alpine idyll, the place suddenly felt a Tyrolean remake of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

Something more neutral was needed. “All the produce served here is produced on our own farm” would have done nicely.

Unless your name is Norman Bates, “slaughter” is just not a word you want to see in a hotel brochure!

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