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Poll: When I spot language errors in brochures, menus, ads etc. I...
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
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Local time: 12:06
SITE STAFF
Jan 22, 2011

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "When I spot language errors in brochures, menus, ads etc. I...".

This poll was originally submitted by Michael Harris. View the poll results »



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Vitals  Identity Verified
Lithuania
Local time: 22:06
Member (2008)
English to Lithuanian
+ ...
I wonder Jan 22, 2011

If "report them and offer my services" has ever worked for anyone and in what way?

Very usually do I spot such things, but never tried to report on that yet.

Have a nice day,
VS


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Sherey Gould  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:06
German to English
"report them and offer my services" Jan 22, 2011

This was one of the angles I used when I initially started out, before I was even really sure if I would be able to handle being freelance. I lived in Munich at the time and the place was rife with poor translations! I *did* end up getting a couple of clients at the beginning this way - smaller ones, yes, but it was a start and gave me the confidence I needed to continue. I was actually surprised this option hasn't gotten a higher percentage.

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Aude Sylvain  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 21:06
English to French
+ ...
usually I ignore them Jan 22, 2011

but I would report them if this is the website/brochure of a good client. This is part of good business relationship I think.
Up to date I only had to report a few typos, and did it for free.


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Joyce A  Identity Verified
Thailand
Local time: 02:06
English to Japanese
+ ...
I react differently with each situation but... Jan 22, 2011

At restaurants, supermarkets, etc. when I see mistakes or misprints I...

1) just enjoy a good chuckle.
2) inform the restaurant staff or owner so they can make corrections for their next printing.
3) take photos and send it to my buddy in Japan who collects all sorts of things with goofy language errors.

PS. Ooooo....Vital's chocolate chip cookie looks temptingly delicious!


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Vitals  Identity Verified
Lithuania
Local time: 22:06
Member (2008)
English to Lithuanian
+ ...
Thanks, Joyce Jan 22, 2011

I appreciate your comment about my cookie. It was today that when I looked at it, I thought I should probably think of replacing it with something else...

But since it still stimulates good feelings of the onlooker, I will think twice!

Have a nice day!
Vitaly


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Cervin  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:06
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
Smile! Jan 22, 2011

It depends- sometimes I report them -the last time I did we spent the whole holiday translating small pieces for the hotel...we didnt mind as there were 6 of us and we had some great discusssions...we didnt, of course. get paid! And the texts were very short...but the interesting thing was the discussions on our own grammar and ways of saying things! And we developed a very good relationship with the hotel staff........

I sometimes think it is better just to say nothing and have a quiet chuckle. After all you could say that it makes the holiday, especially when, in an Italian ski resort, you are advised to 'leap off the chair as fast as possible' at the top of the ski lift!

I am also very fussy about the incorrect use of the apostrophe in English. Now that really makes me angry as it changes the whole meaning of things! I even had a phase when I went round correcting it....now I suppose you all think I'm a raving loony- but there you go, it takes all sorts!


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Simone Linke  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 21:06
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
Other Jan 22, 2011

I clicked "Other". Most of the time, the errors I spot are for menus of very small restaurants and similar stuff. For example, the folks in the Chinese restaurants here all seem to write their menus themselves and - given their not so perfect German - that's often good for a chuckle, but I would feel bad if I were to tell them.

What pisses me off each and every time though is when German television is raping the German language by using a weird mix of English and German. And they do that every day. Sometimes they create real language errors (such as wrong pronunciation or wrong choice of words), but often their crap simply doesn't make sense. Just recently, a somewhat respected news anchor announced a new award his station is handing out to kids who create clips about migration and integration. The award is called "Commit Award" and is bull** on basically all levels. First of all, when the anchor announced it on TV, no one was able to tell if he was saying "Commit Award" (nothing you would expect on German TV) or "Komm Mit Award" (komm mit = German for "come with me" - and it sounds exactly the same).
However, there is a German organisation called KommMit that supports integration as well - the integration of handicapped people. Thus, is anybody trying to imply that foreigners and immigrants are handicapped?
And finally, that migration award is focusing on immigrant groups that don't speak English - why in the world would you give the award an English name then?

Doooh.. those are the kind of language errors that really take me to the edge... but the people making this stuff up are also the kind of people least likely to accept any advice from linguists.


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Mary Worby  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:06
Member
German to English
+ ...
Various Jan 22, 2011

Normally I just seethe quietly. But I have on occasion offered my services.

After consistently pointing out mistakes (and rubbing out bits on the blackboard) I now have the gig of proof-reading our local pub's menu before it goes to press. Earns me a drink now and again and has the added bonus that I can enjoy a well-written menu when we go there to eat!

[Edited at 2011-01-22 10:16 GMT]


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Adnan Özdemir  Identity Verified
Turkey
Local time: 22:06
Member (2007)
German to Turkish
+ ...
to err is human (to to forgive is divine) ;) Jan 22, 2011

''to err is human (to to forgive is divine)
''to err is human (to to forgive is divine)
''to err is human (to to forgive is divine)

Already printed (500000 brochures


Anadolu'dan selamlar
Saludos desde Anatolia


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Anna Katikhina  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 12:06
Member (2008)
English to Russian
+ ...
hmmm Jan 22, 2011

I've recently spotted a really, really, really gross mistake in the translation of an agreement by one of the most well-known international express mail services providers. All I did was grin.

Now I am wondering if I've lost a great opportunity to offer my services


Now, seriously, I'd hate if someone approached me like that. That's why if I ever do anything about such mistakes, it's let people know about the mistakes. And offer my services ONLY if they ask.


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Catherine Shepherd  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:06
Spanish to English
+ ...
Usually... Jan 22, 2011

... I don't bother saying anything, I just share a laugh with my husband/family/friends (depending on the language).

Last year I got an official certificate from the Revenue (UK tax authority) and the person had written "to the best of it's knowledge". (Hurts my eyes!!) I considered asking for a new one that was spelt properly but I didn't really want to mess with the HM Revenue! Maybe this year I'll have better luck.


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Alison Sabedoria  Identity Verified
France
Member (2009)
French to English
+ ...
I sometimes offer help Jan 22, 2011

This can be a good way to start a discussion, but always needs to be done with great tact and diplomacy, in the best tradition of the English butler. You never know what the relationship between the person you're addressing and their "translator" might be!

I found one of my favourite clients this way.


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David Russi  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 13:06
English to Spanish
+ ...
I point it out, but DON'T offer my services Jan 22, 2011

In general, I have always believed that if I really want them to believe me when I tell them there is a problem, offering my services will simply sound like I'm looking for work. Usually I describe the problem, tell them I am a professional translator, explain that it makes their business look unprofessional, and I recommend they find a professional to make appropriate corrections.

I can assure you that over the years I have seen much brutality done to the Spanish language in the US, and I have corrected many signs, fliers, etc., for free while sitting in waiting rooms, standing in line, usually in settings that I know would not otherwise correct the Spanish language for lack of resources. I also know that correcting the text for an unintelligible sign at the motor vehicle department is probably useless, they don't have another $150 to replace it, but I point it out anyway, you never know.

Over the past 20 years, I've been hired probably half a dozen times to retranslate or edit materials in which I spotted errors, and on two occasions I was paid in kind (I received the product in exchange for the work).

Not a money-making endeavor, for sure.


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José Ignacio Coelho Mendes Neto  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 16:06
French to Portuguese
+ ...
Other reaction: despair Jan 22, 2011

I answered "Other" because my usual reaction is to feel more and more hopeless.

The translation business in Brazil is a disaster and the language is treated everywhere with the utmost lack of respect. For instance, every official publication, from all levels of government, has language mistakes in it, not to mention the abstruse phrasing and vocabulary improprieties which makes most of the texts unintelligible.

For some time I tried to report mistakes in a very objective and friendly way, explaining why they were wrong and what a proper solution could be. I usually mentioned that I was a translator in order to have some credibility but never offered my services.

I was completely ignored most of the times, and when not the people in charge insisted on saying that their own twisted way of speaking was correct. Nobody cared if one has specific knowledge of the subject based on study and professional practice. Anything goes really, which makes our work here an ordeal.


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