Thursday, May 13, 2010

Dehydrated flakes of parsley – Persil en flocons déshydratés

Typically, the name of a retail product features the main descriptor,  in this case, the word Parsley. Strangely enough, the small jar that we recently  bought at Loblaws’ said
Parsley Flakes

The French, shown immediately below, said

Persil en flocons

From a graphic, visual point of view, that is fine but from a linguistic one, it is not. You may have noticed that the adjective déshydratés agrees in gender and number with flacons (i.e. flakes). The problem is, it is not the flakes that are dehydrated, it is the parsley.

The resulting French is just as lame sounding as “Dehydrated flakes of Parsley”.

The right French sequence would have been

                                               Persil déshydraté
       en flocons

The symmetry with the English text is down the drain. I can see the reason why many more packages show this type of error. The in-house designer does the English layout and the French is “plugged-in” later, often without any input from a translator.

The consumer is looking for the product but cannot help noticing the “slippage” – this upsets him or her and may lead to avoiding other products of the same brand.

This is what I would call consumer retention in reverse.