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Monday, November 28, 2016

Off Your Rocker - Bad English Translation

While it might appear as though the world loves to pick on Japan and its use of poor English translations, it's just not the case.

I think much of the world holds a special fascination for Japan and its seemingly bizarre aka different culture... such as why the heck do they use so much English in their day-to-day living.

I mean... Japan got the crap bombed out of it with atomic weaponry back in WWII...

Then again, that same country helped rebuild it and make it an Asian version of itself...

Then again... Japan is so intent on maintaining its own distinct culture that it makes it difficult for people to become Japanese citizens...

And with the lack of immigration opportunities, Japan itself has become a stagnant nation, with a negative birthrate meaning Japan and the Japanese could become extinct one day... except it won't happen.

So, how to explain Japan's use of English in its music... video games... advertising... even if it isn't always used correctly, like in the sales sign HERE?

Does Japan have a love affair with all-things English-sounding? Maybe... but why?

I have no real idea.

One of those things that always confused me, were the Japanese music songs sung by Japanese that were 99% Japanese-language content... but for some reason would have a couple of English words thrown in for no reason... I think there was an old Japanese punkish band called Buck-Tick, who had a Japanese-sung song that suddenly used  a couple of English words: "only the lonely."

It's one example, but most Japanese pop and rock songs follow the same path... but why. 

Okay... the phrase sounds cool, but would the average Japanese person understand it? And what the heck... two of the words use the letter "L" - a letter the Japanese do not have in their alphabets, and lack an ability to pronounce it properly, often switching it out with the letter "R"... like I have done with the naming of this blog.

Which brings us to the photo of the signage above dutifully translated into English by the fitness salon Laforet... which sounds French, but is in fact a Japanese company, with multiple locations across the country... so why have a Japanese business name that starts with the letter "L"...

What's particularly sad, is the fact that Laforet tried to provide an English translation of their gym rules, and ultimately failed.

All they had to do was have a Japanese person translate it into English, and then have an English-speaking person spend 30 seconds to look at it to determine if the English translation was a good English translation... because whatever process they are using, it's not working.

Laforet is hardly the only company guilty of it. I see it quite often on websites for Japanese and Chinese companies attempting to create a positive customer experience for their English-speaking web viewers... it's nice... but as soon as I see a mistake in the English writing, I think that company just doesn't give a darn, and I lose respect if not interest for that company.

Yeah... I've seen it on American, British, Canadian, French and German websites, too. Holy smokes... I sometimes get press releases sent from highly reputable German companies or ad agencies... and I spend hours re-writing them for work because the translation is simply not up to snuff.

I'll do it for you... for money, of course, but I'll do it and do it quickly... and for a fair rate of monetary exchange... hey... at least you'll know that no one around the world is going to laugh at a poor English translation.

Send me your English translations, and I'll make sure your company does not become an international laughing stock. 

Just look at that photo at the top... two spelling mistakes and a big grammatical one in three sentences... That's not very good when you are trying to convey a high-end customer experience.

What's worse, is that the word "locker" is spelled correctly in sentence #3, but NOT in sentence #2. That's just carelessness, and unworthy of Laforet. 

Andrew Joseph
PS: Thanks Matthew for the heads-up!

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