Thursday, March 01, 2007

Would you trust a barefoot shoemaker?

This discussion at ProZ is about how to regard an agency whose own website isn't, shall we say, a good advertisement for their own language services. It's not hard to find examples. As Dave Barry would say, "I am not making this up."

One agency is a little shaky in punctuation, prepositions and tenses:

Why we are the best?

In XXXX, we specialized in the following languages:
[It may not be clear from this isolated sentence, but the context shows that this was meant to express, "At XXXX, we specialize in the following languages:"]

Another agency has basically correct, though workmanlike English, but an unfortunately chosen preposition leaps out at the reader:

We will pay special attention on the following:

A third agency has correct, fairly native-sounding English throughout their website, except for the first paragraph on the introduction page. Ouch!

Established in 19--, XXX Traductores in time becomes one of the largest full service translation companies in the Americas; in 19--, it establishes in [city in USA], XXX Translation Center, today

This agency's blurb is a lovely example of "third language" or "translationese." It's correct, or almost correct English, but the manner of expression, the sentence structure, vocabulary choice, and even the overall decision of what to say to the reader are entirely Spanish:

What identifies this corporation is its seriousness and professionalism, as well as its complete confidentiality, personalized treatment and the excellent service that we offer, which have allowed us to achieve an outstanding performance.

For the fulfillment of our main objective, which consists of providing a quality and specialized service, the translators, interpreters and the staff that collaborate with this corporation is integrated by highly qualified professionals, mainly experts certified by the Superior Court of Justice and acknowledged by different Embassies both in [our country] and abroad.

But this one wins my "Barefoot Shoemaker" prize:

The background of our Company starts in the year 19--, as XXX. This company turns into YYY a couple of years alter and finally in 19--, it consolidated into the Company we are today: ZZZ, which Board of Directors is chaired by Lic. ABC.

Some of the attributes that make us different are: excellent quality in translation and interpretation, selection of the ideal interpreters for each topic, equipment in perfect operating conditions, trained and responsible technical personnel, excellent customer service, timeliness in delivering our services and we are willing and able to make your event a success regardless of its magnitude or where it is held in the world.

Our history includes, amongst a large number of clients, internationally renown universities such as: [list of "renown" universities], and also world renown international companies and organizations such as: [list of "renown" companies and organizations] amongst other.

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At March 14, 2007 10:30 a.m., Blogger Race Point said...


Tu talento para los idiomas es increible, pero para los no nativos, el correcto uso de las proposiciones en Inglés parece ser todo un misterio y es muy difícil de dominar. Pero aún así, estoy deacuerdo con lo que planteas. Pronto en mi blog, colocaré unos cuantos de esos ejemplos a los que tú te refieres, pero en este caso del Inglés al Castellano.

At March 14, 2007 12:25 p.m., Blogger Mago said...

Hola, Race Point, me interesará mucho leer tu blog. No culpo a un no nativo por sus problemas con las preposiciones y otras trampas del inglés... igual reconozco por mi parte que nunca lograré hablar y escribir perfectamente el español: fíjate que empezé a estudiarlo desde cero a la edad de 22.

No es que yo proponga que cualquier persona que escriba en cualquier foro deba escribir sin errores; lo que planteo con esta nota es que los que pretenden presentarse como prestadores de servicios de idioma, de calidad profesional, deben ser conscientes de sus propias limitaciones, y si no dominan cierto idioma, entonces deben pedir la colaboración de un nativo de dicho idioma para redactar o al menos correjir el texto antes de exponerse como lo hicieron los que cité. Su lenguaje sí anuncia la calidad de sus servicios, pero no de la manera que hubieran querido.

Claro que en muchos otros espacios, en donde no se trata de anunciar servicios de idioma, lo importante es entenderse, no escribir sin errores.


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