Why the UK should keep up teaching MFL
This article was sent to me on the JISCmail German Studies List
It was written by Dr.Falco Pfalzgraf (translation by Lingonews)
English speakers love having a laugh with “Chinglish”
but there are also some rather funny translations around in the United Kingdom:
I bought a packet of “Stem Ginger Biscuits” produced by “Fudges” from Dorset. On the packaging of this rather pricy product, the sentence “Stem Ginger Biscuits half dipped in Belgian Dark Chocolate”, in its German version turns out as “Halten Sie die Ingwer-Biskuithälfte auf, die in belgische dunkle Schokolade eingetaucht wird” [Stop the half ginger sponge-cake in its tracks, that is being dipped in Belgian dark chocolate]. Strange – did the translator (or computer) understand “stem” as the imperative of the German “stemmen”, meaning “stop in its tracks” (or like a ‘Stemmeisen’=crowbar)? Google Language Tools offer the following options as a German translation for the English word “stem”: “eindämmen, aufhalten, hemmen” [to dam up, to stop, to constrain] – always assuming that it’s a verb. Also strange: “Biskuit” instead of “Keks” or “Plätzchen” [sponge-cake rather than biscuit or cookie]. And: the “ginger shavings” in German turn into the incredible “ingwerrasieren” [trim the ginger’s beard].
The Spanish version is even more interesting, the sentence “Stem Ginger Biscuits half dipped in Belgian Dark Chocolate” becomes “Provenga la mitad de las galletas del jengibre sumergida en chocolate oscuro belga” – here, too, they take it as an imperative, however, this time, the English “stem” is regarded as “to be a descendant of” in the sense of “origin”. Thus, approximately: “Be a descendant, half of the biscuit of the ginger […]” The “ginger shavings” , too, are remarkable: “jengibre que afeita” – “ginger trimming someone’s beard”. “Ground ginger” becomes “jengibre de tierra”, that is “earth ginger”. “Stem ginger” becomes “Jengibre del vastago”, i.e. “ginger of the sapling”, etc.
Of course, there is a nice French version, too 🙂
Should anybody like to see the packaging, here it is:
Really, MFL teaching in the UK is of the essence.
Comment by Lingonews: As for the teaching, I couldn’t agree more.
Manufacturers who would like to market their – really much appreciated – products in the European marketplace should be wary of free translation (it’s like that free lunch).
Professional translators are happy go that extra kilometre for them – and a short product description still comes at a very low price.