Thursday 17 June 2010

Shame on you!

Last May I was walking down the lovely streets of the town I live in and I was given a leaflet in English advertising guided tours of the Etruscan tombs scattered in the neighbouring area. As soon as I started reading it I noticed that the level of the translation was absolutely appalling. That is why I have decided to post and comment on parts of it here. At first I thought they were just typing errors, but I was wrong. See for yourself:

  • "The colours of the etruscans": do you know that nationality words in English are ALWAYS written with a capital letter?
  • "Extraordinary opening of the tomb of the Bulls": do you mean "exceptional opening"?
  • "october", "friday", "saturday": the days of the week and the months of the year, too, are ALWAYS written with a capital letter!

  • "Friday and Saturday h. 15:30": it should be "Friday and Saturday at 3.30 pm (or 15.30, or 15:30). You can only use 'h.' ['hour(s)'] when you say for example '15 hundred (hours)'.
  • Notice again that the months of the year are written with a small letter.
  • "Start to Sala Grande Biblioteca Comunale Barriera di San Giusto": is this going to be a race or are they just taking you on a guided tour? It is obvious that it should be something like "We leave/are leaving from Barriera di San Giusto". Why didn't you translate "Sala Grande Biblioteca Comunale"? Was it too difficult?
  • "with yours cars": everyone knows that adjectives used attributively in English NEVER take any plural ending! 'Yours' is a pronoun, NOT an adjective!
  • "For informations call to": apart from the fact that when you want to contact someone in English you call them, NEVER call to them, here what really gets me is the 's' on the end of the term 'information'. Everyone should know that 'information' is one of those UNcountable nouns that NEVER take a plural ending (except when it means 'a charge lodged with a magistrates' court).
  • What kind of office is the "I.A.T. Office"? I don't even know in Italian!
  • "Municipal Library": is it the mayor's own library or just the local one?
  • "Mob.: 331-8785257": is this the mobile number of a mob of protesters? By the way, mobile numbers in English are normally written into groups of two or three digits and are not usually separated by hyphens!
  • "From 9 to 18:00": I think it'd be much better to say "from 9 am to 6 pm".

  • "To reach Tarquinia": maybe you mean "How to reach/get to Tarquinia"?
  • "highway until Civitavecchia and then Aurelia way": it should be "Take the highway as far as (NOT until, as you use this preposition with time expressions!) Civitavecchia and then the Via Aurelia. Is the Aurelia way a new lifestyle?
  • "Aurelia way to the south direction": "Take the Via Aurelia (out) towards the south".
  • "in both cases there are about 45 km": where?
  • "Tarquinia is on the railway Roma-Ventimiglia": I thought Tarquinia was located upon a hill, not on a set of tracks!
  • "train station is 3 km far from the town": it should be "the train station is...".

I think my little cat can speak better english than whoever did this translation! Oops, sorry! It should be 'better English', shouldn't it?

1 comment:

  1. Yes, but people make this kind of errors all the time; it's no use correcting them. Few of them are linguistic prodigies like you, Alex, few of them have grown bilingual. A Canadian flight-attendant trying his German on his German passengers translates 'Newfoundland' as 'Neugefundenesland'(Terra-recentemente-trovata), you imagine how it came across... . We are human, until Esperanto or something better has been accepted we'll have to live with this kind of stuff and resign to it.