Even if you’re writing something in your own language, it’s always a good idea to get someone else to read it and give some feedback. Sometimes you just can’t see the wood for the trees when you’ve been working for a long time on a document.
One of the most valuable services we provide at WLC is acting as a sounding board and providing the chance to get a second opinion on a word, expression or even a longer text.
Gary and I also constantly consult each other. He just rung me to ask how I understood the phrase “irregular payments.” To me it sounded like bribes, money under the table or kickbacks. Irregular may mean not regular, but it also means dubious, dodgy, illegal, fishy or questionable.
This was exactly the answer he’d been hoping for. “Irregular payments” is not wrong. But it is potentially ambiguous. And when the ambiguity could imply financial impropriety, it’s far better not to use it. He changed the text to “non-regular payments ” which is correct and completely unambiguous.
The moral of this anecdote? Even when you are 90% sure about something, there’s never any harm in asking for a second opinion.
I do wish the publishers of Bum magazine had consulted us before they went international. That name is a serious bummer!
One of the trickiest tasks we face in our work is translating job titles. This is particularly true when the job or the activity doesn’t exist much outside of the Nordic countries. A classic example of this is “omvärldsanalys”.
This refers to the fact that many big companies and organisations employ experts whose job it is to report on and analyse any events or developments in the business world, society or international politics which may affect them .
In a rapidly changing global world it is crucial for both individuals and organisations to have their finger on the pulse and be able to identify any relevant trends and innovations that will impact on their activities.
But how to translate it?
Googling will reveal that there are several translations in use. One of the most common is “business intelligence” which is a variation on military intelligence. Which is fine as far as it goes but it doesn’t cover non-business activity. “Market research”, also in use, is even narrower in meaning whereas “environmental scanning” sounds as though it has something to do with global warming.
To conclude, the translation you choose will depend on which professional area you work in.
Which brings me to what we do at WLC. We may be working on translation, proofreading or language training however our gathering of “language intelligence” impacts on our work every day. What is happening in the English language? What’s in and what’s out? What changes should we and our business partners be aware of? We need to know the answers.
008 – Licensed to Translate. Yes, we’re the James Bonds of the language sector!
Anyone who is interested in modern pop music will know about Taylor Swift, the young singer-songwriter who attracted headlines when she refused to collaborate with Spotify. She’s the one pop singer that everyone is our family likes. Her latest album was the soundtrack of our drive back from Öland last Xmas.
The grammar snobs at the Princeton Review clearly decided it was time to put this young upstart in her place.
There was a section in a recent test paper they produced called “Grammar in Real Life” which read:
“Pop lyrics are a great source of bad grammar. See if you can find the error in each of the following.”
They then quoted one of Ms Swift’s songs.
They were rapidly hoist by their own petard. They had misquoted her lyrics. The sassy popstar rapidly put those fuddy duddy grammarians in their place.
Of course correct grammar is important. But who ever went to pop songs to find perfect examples of correct grammar?
Taylor’s fans call themselves Swifties and are rather fanatical. Here she explains how she invited some of them home to hear her new album. Hilarious!