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No grammar star

June 26, 2011

Recently there has been an ad on a number of web pages which has kind of irritated me. It is an ad for a browser game called Soccer Star. Presumably they check where you are browsing from, since they show a cartoon girl dressed in a Swedish flag in the ad. What annoys me is the text though, which says “det roliga fotbollsmatch”. This is quite terrible Swedish, what they probably wanted to write was “det roliga fotbollsspelet”, i.e. “the fun football game” – with game as in computer game (game = spel). What they instead refer to is the type of game where people run around kicking a ball – different word in Swedish (game = match) with incorrect grammar – “den roliga fotbollsmatchen” would be more correct.

Testing the translation from English to Swedish in Google Translate provides the incorrect form that they use in the ad. So they probably never spent any effort in trying to make proper translations, just used Google’s services and hoped for the best.

Categories: Online games
  1. June 26, 2011 at 15:27

    I translate for a living, so I see this all the time. People sneer at me for being too expensive, run their corporate shiz through Google, and come back to me a week later because at the end of the day, if you actually care about your content, machine translation won’t cut it.

    I feel your irritation! 😀

  2. June 27, 2011 at 05:48

    I feel your pain. This is something I cannot stand. I take it as a signal of how much a company cares about its customer base. If they cannot throw down even a modest amount of money for language localization (i.e., making the content compelling and relevant to the target audience) then what else have they chosen to skimp on as well?

    I spent some time in Japan and it was a bit of a parlor game to log and capture exceedingly bad English signs, logos, etc. Granted, most were aimed at a local Japanese audience rather than English speakers, but still… Could they not have bought some English teacher a hot meal and asked them whether “Twin Turbo Nude Club” made sense when marketing earbuds for electronic devices? Or weather the coffee drinking public would be moved by World Coffee’s “Persistent Pursuit of Dainty” motto?

    As and English speaker, I can only imagine the grammar atrocities flowing the other direction as well… All your base are belong to us.

  3. June 27, 2011 at 22:28

    I think the most common atrocity that people do to the Swedish language is treating it a bit like it was English. In English it is common to use multiple separate words to form more complex entities, e.g. “football player”. In Swedish you typically make single composite words instead – “fotbollsspelare”.
    However, it is far too common that some people write these as multiple separate words instead, which sometimes can have a bit different meaning:

    rödhårig sjuksyster – redheaded nurse
    röd hårig sjuk syster – red hairy sick sister

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