December 6, 2013 Leave a comment
We know. Tweaking people for the way they talk is just evil.
Our penance will be to write 100 times on the board: “Eet eez rroong to make-a fun ovv udder pipl accent.”
… what else can you do when people refuse to be ashamed of themselves?
November 11, 2013 6 Comments
Following the unbelievably stupid gaffe and resulting public-relations disaster (here and here) created last September by Guido Barilla, CEO of the Barilla Pasta company, tens of thousands of people went looking for another brand of decent pasta (and no, in case you were wondering, not one American manufacturer can lay claim to that description).
Some of them no doubt landed on the site of the “Pastificio Lucio Garofalo,” which sells its products via internet as well as through Amazon.com.
Our hope is that those who did took one look at the ridiculous English-language translation of Garofalo’s site and adopted the Inferno Solution (that is, “Let us not speak of them: look, and pass on”).
Before we passed on to the next manufacturer, however, we couldn’t help but take a few samples of Garofalo’s Mèd Een Eetaly Inglisc.
Read a few paragraphs of this and you’ll be convinced, as we are, that Garofalo’s only product is maccherone.
Let’s start with Massimo Menna’s heartfelt, um, declaration of his passione for Garofalo’s “Gente del Fud” project. (I’m sure that’s a misspelling. They probably meant Fudd. As in Elmer Fudd.)
We’re also quite fond of this, which we think explains why Naples has suffered so badly from earthquakes over the course of the centuries. Someone really should tell them to stop thatching their roofs with pasta!
But this isn’t bad either, as Garofalo explains how they look for “balance and taste … in front of a pasta dish.” Evidently, Garofalo translates like it eats:
Garofalo Pasta. Quality in absolutely everything. Of course, we still use cut-rate, inexpert, non-native translators. Because that’s just how our artisanal intelligence rolls, bitches.
October 11, 2013 1 Comment
Having discovered the so-called writer, Maurizio Cosimo Ortuso, and his so-called publishing company and “literary agency,” Innede (an enterprise that puts the “vanity” in “vanity publishing”), Inglisc: Mèd Een Eetaly can almost retire. It’s difficult to believe we’ll ever find another example of such utter linguistic incompetence combined with such scorching self-importance. (Though that doesn’t mean we won’t keep trying.)
In fact, Mèd Een Eetaly held off for a while before publishing this report because we were nearly convinced that Innede was an elaborate satire of Italian megalomania and distaste for actual substance and quality. It isn’t.
So far, apparently, no writer in Hollywood has succeeded in pitching a sitcom based on the life of a translator. But that’s OK. In the meantime, we have Signor Ortuso (unless it’s “Ottuso” and the “r” is a typo). If you’re a translator, there are hours of free entertainment to be had on his elaborate website, in which no more than three words are ever strung together without an error.
In every language! Including his own, which is allegedly Italian. But Sig. Ortuso is plurilingual. In fact, according to his Facebook profile (https://www.facebook.com/maurizio.ortuso), he speaks SEVEN languages. Come on; you know that’s impressive. His languages are: “English, Svenska, Spanish, Italian, French, French, and Français.”
But let’s get to the Innede site, which is where the real giggles lie. Really, though, we can’t even begin to do justice to this encyclopedic collection of fatuous howlers and gratuitous idiocy. You’ll just have to go take a look yourself. Choose any page at random. It’ll be inept, Google-translated, incoherent, and self-aggrandizing to the point at which poverty of intellect meets massive incompetence.
(Don’t worry, we’ve saved a few of the best screen shots, about which more later, in case Sig. Ortuso has an attack of shame. He seems beyond shame, so we don’t think that’s likely. But just in case.)
OK, so here’s our favorite. On the “Inglisc” version of his site, in which Sig. Ortuso promises that his “staff” can translate to and from “every language in the world” (if there’s one phrase that every shyster puts on his site, that’s it), he helpfully explains that the cost of a translation is based on the number of wisecracks in the text. (If that’s the case, this post alone is going to be worth a couple thou.)
Yes, wisecracks. Why? Because in Italian, the cost of translation is based upon the number of battute or keystrokes. But it’s true; battuta can also mean a joke or wisecrack. Typically, somewhere between 1500 and 2000 keystrokes constitute a cartella or editorial page, which Sig. Ortuso calls a briefcase (another borrow translation that didn’t work out). So, to sum up: If you want to know what a translation will cost, you’ll need to figure out how many briefcases will be required to hold the number of wisecracks in your text.
Only a dolt could make this kind of error, which a “professional” who spoke “seven” languages, including English, English, and Anglais, might be expected to catch. Learn more about the “card of reading” on the “Modalità” page.
Perhaps Sig. Ortuso was too busy “adequately translat[ing] and optimis[ing] the texts both of books and of sites web in such way to favor and to consolidate her own presence in the world” to pay attention to the error. Just working on “sites web” and placing “codes ISBN” can take up a lot of your time.
Then there’s the page on which he brags about his “publishing company’s” production of ebooks. This is another one where you really need to see the whole page (which is here), but you can get the flavor of the thing from the opening lines, in which Sig. Ortuso talks about how manuscripts are evaluated: “If your work is judged of our interest, we contact you to appraise together its typologies of publication: version e-Book, version Average-Book, e/o papery version.”
At Mèd Een Eetaly, we still tend to prefer the papery version, but it’s certainly true that far too many Average-Books are being published these days. A lot of them by Innede.
This is probably as good a place as any to point out that one of Innede’s many “books” (amazingly enough, they are almost all by Sig. Ortuso’s — he’s as prolific as a retrovirus) is called, in Italian, La Meritocrazia: Quella Che Non C’è. There’s a lot of talk in Italy about how getting ahead in one’s profession is so rarely based on merit, talent, or individual ability or achievement. Rather, what tends to count are connections, insider information, and “good words” from a well-placed friend. So we might translate the title as something like Merit: The Missing Factor.
Which, when you think about it, would be a great title for Sig. Ortuso’s entire enterprise.
Let’s close with the page on which Sig. Ortuso gives advice to would-be writers. (Again, the entire page is a work of anti-art, so take a look here.)
Clearly, Sig. Ortuso has poured his heart into this, and no doubt it reflects the personal philosophy that gives him the colossal gall to pass himself off as a professional writer, translator, and publisher and ask people to give him actual money for his hack work. He says,
In whatever sector you develop him your creativeness, some people they will detest what fairies and others will love it…. Feedback can help us to improve, but you can also insert us in black hole from which we risk not to go out.
Mèd Een Eetaly will be meeting this week with some physicists (and some fairies) we know. If there’s any possibility at all of creating a black hole from which Mr. Ortuso and his insulting “literary agency,” Innede, could risk not to go out, tell it you about we will.
Meanwhile, you might wonder whether Stockholm University, whose logo Sig. Ortuso apparently copied directly from Wikipedia, knows that it is an official sponsor of Sig. Ortuso’s nonsense. Or whether the People’s University of Stockholm, where university records indicate that Sig. Ortuso taught one single 20-hour course in 2003 for beginning students in Italian, knows that he brags about having taught there “for many years.”
October 14, 2011 Leave a comment
How much do you want to bet this work cost peanuts!
March 26, 2011 1 Comment
Criticizing the Italian Ministry of Tourism for its embarrassing, amateurish, ham-handed publicity efforts is a little like shooting fish in a barrel: there’s hardly any sport in it.
On the other hand, how can you resist? Especially if you take into account the hundreds (yes, hundreds) of millions of Euros the Ministry has spent on a money pit of a national tourism website (with ugly, shameful translations in a half-dozen languages) and on publicity campaigns like these.
Many times, an image is worth a thousand words. Here are two. Plus a video. (The leggy redhead in the lesbian-fantasy-porn high heels is the current Minister of Tourism, Michela Vittoria Brambilla; the guy in the video [below] is the former mayor of Rome and, at the time the video was made, Minister for Italian Heritage and Culture, Francesco Rutelli.
Rutelli welcomes you!
(If you cannot see the video, download it here.)
“Italy: Perhaps you dreaming about.”
Now there’s a quotable quote. Michela! Let’s get that on a brochure!
July 23, 2010 Leave a comment
ProZ.com is famous for allowing translators to claim to be “native speakers” of any language that pops into their heads and for taking no action whatever to ensure that second- (or third-) language translators aren’t defrauding potential clients by claiming to be able to do what they cannot actually do.
But even on ProZ, some people have more chutzpah than others.
Take this translator, who claims to have twenty-three years of experience and to be a “native English translator with Italian parents.” (In other words, arguably, not a native English speaker, but whatever.) She also advertises herself in English as “Dr.,” one of those small Italian scams that Italian translators sometimes try to get away with — in Italy, you’re a “dottore” or a “dottoressa” as soon as you finish you undergraduate degree, but that doesn’t make you a “doctor” in any other language.
Confronted in the past, this translator has argued that the bad translations of websites listed on her résumé were “changed by the client” without her knowledge. OK, here are three perfectly ghastly messes from her current ProZ profile. In other words, she put them there herself.
First, here’s an attempt to render the description of an art exhibition. I know, this is like shooting fish in a barrel. She didn’t even bother to run a spell-check on the piece, her punctuation is shameful, and she never met a calque she didn’t like. Still, phrases like “unctuously aestheticising” and “the state of principal essentially non-event” are evidence of a glaring lack of familiarity with basic English (as is the failure to realize that “Middle age authors” suggests something quite different from “authors writing in the Middle Ages”).
The fact is that Italian clients are frequently in no position to judge the quality of an English translation–they simply don’t read the language well enough. So they count on the translator. And there’s nothing wrong with that; they should be able to count on the translator. But that’s assuming they choose one who knows what she’s doing …
… and not one who slavishly follows every twist and turn of a truly atrocious Italian text to create an equally atrocious (and no less meaningless) one in Inglisc.
Finally, here’s a recipe.
Sure, you can figure out what she’s saying (though that “browny even colour” and “little livers” might give you pause), but the question becomes: How hard would it have been to give this text to someone who could translate it properly, edit out the run-on sentences, and use correct cooking terminology? More to the point, a translation you have to “figure out” isn’t a translation; it’s a hack job.
Perhaps the rationale for all this madness lies in the fact that this translator advertises her services starting at €0.04/word (about $0.05). Despite translations like these, she boasts that she has “developed a good reputation in this field as I am committed to high-quality translations.” She demonstrates that “high quality” once again on a different professional networking site, where her profile includes this description:
Specialized In videogames, tourism, travel, winery, marketing, technical translations, also software localization and subtitiling and websites, i have translated 50 wesbites this year many on Hotels and hospitality, Forex and online casino.
Yes, written just like that: crazy capitals, run-on sentences, “wesbites,” “subtitiling,” and all.
Frankly, this kind of translator — and the collusion of ProZ.com, TranslatorsCafé, and their ilk in finding clients for them — would be less offensive if she were at least honest: “I’m an Italian-speaking translator with a second-rate ability to write in English. My translations into English are neither elegant nor fluent, but they are very cheap.”
The English would still be terrible, but at least it wouldn’t be fraud.
July 8, 2010 2 Comments
Solar Farm ⁞ Report card: C- ⁞ Here’s my offer to the Parma, Italy-based Solar Farm company, providers of “turn-key photovoltaic in Italy”: If I promise not to install solar paneling, will you promise to stop translating into English?
I think it’s only fair. Because if you ask me, “Is it still worthy a solar farm in Italy?” I’m afraid the answer is going to have to be, “No, it were not.”
The “Golden Rush” is pretty funny all by itself, but the “focues” and the “high energy-yeld” are just plain embarrassing. Even if you’re a bad translator (especially if you’re a bad translator), you should probably learn to use the spell check.
But it’s when we get to brief bios of Solar Farm’s principals, Marco Bonvini and Emilio Zechini, that their site qualifies for the Gallery of Wrongness. I’ll bet both of them are real smart guys, and there’s no question that Italy desperately needs alternative-energy resources.
But what if they think like they write? Or what if the care they put into their consulting services is equal to the amount of attention they paid to the English version of their website?
If I were someone interested in solar energy technology, and if I couldn’t read this site in the original Italian, considerations like those would certainly give me pause.
In the end, it’s the age-old question: What kind of business are you running if it isn’t worth the price of a decent translation?
July 8, 2010 Leave a comment
I have to thank a colleague, who is as astounded as I am by the amount of Italish that exists in public places in Italy, for these images.
In the first, the imposing Milano Centrale train station stands in the background. Hundreds of thousands of tourists cross this piazza every year–either because they’re visiting Milan or because they’re on their way to or from Malpensa (airport buses are lined up to the right of the photo, just out of sight). Still, no one at the panini bar thought it might matter to get the English right on the sign (see close-up). Here is available to reach a captive audience, so who cares?
Just goes to show: The world over, the coppers get grumpy if you don’t lend them the proper attention:
July 8, 2010 Leave a comment
Hey, it’s only content. Why should it matter if it’s gibberish?
What’s interesting to note here is that the Italian is hardly the best — it’s the kind of breathless publicity-speak written with the help of a thesaurus (but without the aid of someone who actually knows how to write a product description). From a translator’s perspective, texts like these are a translation nightmare.
Literal translation (which is pretty much what FitnessElite got) tends to make your eyes glaze over with its silliness. On the other hand, coming up with a decent equivalent in English requires more than just translation; it requires the skills of a copywriter. Unfortunately, since translators tend to get paid about 1/75th of what advertising copywriters make, clients generally don’t want to foot the bill for decent prose.
And why should they?
After all, it’s only their business we’re talking about!