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Pity the poor translator...

<gripe on>

Last time I was in an oriental market, I picked up a packet of dried squid for snacking on.

I already know what you're thinking. Shut up.

I think it's a product of Taiwan, but I'm not sure, because it looks like it's destined for both the US and Japan.

On the package, it says (spelling errors are transcribed as found):

"This product is under strict ouality control with perfect packing and quality when leaving the factory. Please keep away from damp, high temp or sun expose. If found any defectives when purchasing please retrn the product by airmail to our Administration section and inform the purchase for our improvement we shall give you a satisfactory reply. Thanks for your Patronage and welcome your comments."

If "ouality" is such a priority, why don't such asian exporters ever run their documentation or packaging under the eyes of a native English speaker? I could think of a number of reasons:

1) They're cheap
2) Their own estimation of their English ability exceeds actuality
3) They know the product will sell just as well even with lousy translations
4) They don't give a rat's ass
5) All of the above

Me, I'd be embarrassed to sell a product in a foreign market with errors like this - but it's a problem of long, long standing. Translation is often given short shrift in business plans. Too many managers think, "Oh, my secretary Miss Yin speaks English, she can do the translation and I'll save money." With the concept of "face" so prominent in Asian cultures, it surprises me that they don't understand this sort of cost-cutting makes their enterprise look bad. On the other hand, perhaps the average American consumer doesn't care either.

I wish I had kept a copy of an ad that appeared on our bulletin board in the early 80's when I was working for the now-defunct ALPS, Inc. (Automated Language Processing Systems). It showed a manager reaming out some poor drone, and the caption was "Because you let your brother-in-law do the translation, our ad says that our new camera exposes itself automatically!"

People in the translation industry are certainly aware of the problem, and resolving it would certainly create a lot of work for a lot of people... but would also deduct from the bottom line of the manufacturers, and that has always seemed to be the driving factor.

I just felt like saying that...

<gripe off>


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Comments

fearciuil
Mar. 30th, 2009 12:45 am (UTC)
Take a picture and send it to www.engrishfunny.com.

I dare you. ;D

On a more serious note, I agree; running a phrase through Google Translator works well for fanfiction ... notsomuch in a business transaction.
deckardcanine
Mar. 30th, 2009 02:03 pm (UTC)
Or to www.engrish.com, or to the Engrish LJ community, both of which I watch.

Coyoty may be right about the publicity angle. Alternatively, maybe they do have proofreaders with English as a first language, but those proofreaders have a mean sense of humor.
coyoty
Mar. 30th, 2009 07:53 am (UTC)
Another reason for Engrish might be that the manufacturers realize that their products will be bought just to content blogs, and they get free advertising in the process.
ccdesan
Mar. 30th, 2009 09:17 pm (UTC)
r_caton
Mar. 30th, 2009 09:07 pm (UTC)
Hoffnung's letters from Austrian hoteliers?

I am not good in bath, but I am superb in bed.

There is a french widow in every bedroom!

Sorrowfully I cannot abide your Otto.

But they pale against
All London brothels display a blue lamp.....
ccdesan
Mar. 30th, 2009 09:19 pm (UTC)
There is a french widow in every bedroom... affording delightful prospects!

Indeed... when entering a railway carriage, be sure to shake hands with all the passengers! The Blue Lamp was brilliant, but my favorite was the Famous Echo in the Reading Room...

EDIT: Not to mention the bricklayer!

What a twisted genius that man was. Perhaps he died so young because he had already lived seven lifetimes of ordinary men...

Edited at 2009-03-30 09:30 pm (UTC)
r_caton
Mar. 30th, 2009 11:04 pm (UTC)
I tried to get the BBC LP years ago... REF157 I think...6 months I waited to no avail...
I have it on a 10" Decca MP to use the correct description.
7" EP
10" MP
12" LP

It must be vinylly on CD by now.
ccdesan
Mar. 30th, 2009 11:21 pm (UTC)
A Limey friend of mine had it on vinyl, which I xferred to tape years ago, and then finally ripped the tape to mp3. Most of Hoffnung's work is on CD through his official website. Someday when I have an extra 50 quid or so...
alaskawolf
Mar. 30th, 2009 11:06 pm (UTC)
ccdesan
Mar. 30th, 2009 11:24 pm (UTC)
Engrish? Geneva auto show?

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