Second guessing?


Second guessing?

In non-English speaking countries, do you, like me, find a lot of the sales blurb and websites to be displayed in dodgy English?

Most native-speaker English people, particularly when buying online and receiving product or surfing outside their own country, wonder if the companies concerned are losing business.

Normally, what this boils down to is material translated into English by speakers of English as a second language. Or indeed when free-of-charge online translation tools are not checked or corrected and people rely on them for the English language version of their product and website copy. This of course is cropping up more and more as the need for global English rises. Sales info, even instructions, can be rushed out this way, which can however pose a certain danger if inaccurate.

In my humble opinion, this situation will only begin to be tidied up when a sufficiently serious litigation case goes public. It only needs a powerful customer to sue due to a life-threatening or even death-causing outcome caused by incorrect translation in instructions or information supplied. Among many others, take for example fireworks manufactured in the Far East and shipped to the UK, which must be a casualty or disaster just waiting to happen.

One of the underlying reasons is the rise in the number of speakers of this type of English. Statistically, speakers of English as a second language around the world now outnumber native speakers of English by roughly 3 to 1. First-language English just can’t keep up.

Strangely enough, this is reflected in the European Union’s inter-country dealings as well as its recruitment. Mainly because of the UK’s large-scale decline in languages at school and degree level over the last decade or so, the EU HQ in Brussels is struggling to find sufficient new, qualified native speakers of English.

Which means that second-language speakers of English may well need to take on some language combinations into English. Thus maybe leading to the public being faced with a rise in incomprehensible Eurospeak in EU directives.

So, in the regular B2B arena, always be sure to insist on a native speaker doing translations for you or your group company / contact company.

Even though outsourcing the translation work is slower than a click of a mouse or than perhaps keeping it within your own company, the consequences of not doing it through a native speaker could affect the company for much longer.