Saturday, August 31, 2013

Continental Tire bulletin PSIB 07-01 on the use of nitrogen / Bulletin technique sur le nitrogène dans les pneus

Les pneus sont conçus et fabriqués pour offrir plusieurs kilomètres
d’excellent service mais pour ce, ils doivent être entretenus adéquatement.

Tires are designed and built to provide many miles of
excellent service but must be maintained properly.

While reading information on some tires that were provided with a new vehicle, I came upon this bulletin regarding the use of nitrogen. The introductory sentence is a typical example of one word: many meanings.

In European French (i.e. from France, Belgium, Switzerland), the word plusieurs is the equivalent of the English several. Thus one can say un pneu, deux pneus, plusieurs pneus (the number of which is small but not specified). In Canada, and more specifically in Québec, plusieurs is actually the equivalent of many, more than 2 or 3, but without specifying the number.

The challenge in international translation is to find words and expressions which have the same meaning and would be understood in several locales or countries. Thus, at least two other ways of saying this would have been:

1      Les pneus sont fabriqués pour offrir un grand nombre de kilomètres
2      Les pneus sont fabriqués pour offrir un nombre important de kilomètres

In both cases, the sentence would have been properly understood both in Europe and in Québec.

La documentation sur les pneus livrés avec une voiture neuve mentionnait l’utilisation du nitrogène pour le gonflage des pneus. La version française dit : plusieurs kilomètres. Cette expression est équivalente à l’anglais seulement au Québec, où plusieurs signifie un grand nombre. Le même texte lu en France serait risible, car il voudrait dire "a small number ", un petit nombre de kilomètres.

Petit détail mais qui vaut la peine de surveiller, le lecteur de chaque pays interprétant son texte de sa propre façon.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Package design fiasco/Un emballage raté

During a recent visit to the local Home Depot, I found an orange tube with some material in it. The label said: Traffic T-Shirt.  The French caption said Chemise de circulation. Intrigued, I read further and realized that the item had nothing to do with traffic (flow of vehicles), as the French wording stated. 

A visit to the Home Depot website provided the following picture and copy:
Workhorse high-visibility traffic safety shirt acts as way of prevention and protection against accidents and injuries while working on the road. Its durable and breathable material has been engineered to wick moisture from the inside of the fabric. Certified to CSA Z96 class 2, level 2.
  • Two tone reflective Stripes
  • Breathable and durable
  • 100% high-visibility polyester
  • Machine washable
  • Meets CSA Z96 

  • Chemise de circulation W/ Stripes,Taille L

    The French copy is totally different from the English copy.  Chandails de signalisation orange à haute visibilité. 100% polyester, matériel (mailles) qui garde au sec. Ruban réflechissant argenté avec ruban jaune. Ne retient pas la transpiration.Certifié à la norme CSA Z96 de classe 2, niveau 2
    • Bandes Réfléchissantes
    • Confortable et durable
    • 100% Polyester haute-visibilité
    • Lavable à la machine

  • I decided to check the CSA site to discover that the certification applies to high visibility safety apparel used in the construction industry, not traffic at all. 

    The English text is emphasizing the traffic safety aspect  but does not describe the colour or shape of the stripes. The French, on the other hand, provides a much more technical description but states that this clothing is for signaling purposes. No mention of road traffic.

    Two questions: 1) who created this copy and what were they trying to do?  2) who checked the French to ensure that  the original English description was translated properly? 

    Finally, I did a global Google search for this type of clothing and found many items resembling it. The description?  Gilet réflecteur de sécurité routière i.e. Road Safety Reflective Vest. 

    One wonders how the potential purchaser reacts to this? I certainly was confused and annoyed by the sloppy copywriting and translation. Home Depot, are you listening?