Metaphors, slang and jargon: why translators turn to drink

Metaphors, slang and jargon have a lot to answer for – in any language. Nothing is worse for a translator of business text, in particular, than text that’s heaving with them.

Nearly all languages have numerous metaphors, slang and jargon that, if translated literally, make absolutely no sense whatsoever. Predictably, English is probably the worst.

Metaphors, slang and jargon: why translators turn to drink

New GM model that wasn’t going anywhere – not in Spanish, anyway.

We’ve all heard the story about General Motors Europe who launched a small hatchback model some years ago called the Nova[Read more…]

Doctors’ jargon to watch for on your medical notes…

doctors,jargon,medical notes,abbreviations,acronyms,writing,humor,funny jokes

If he thinks you’re CTD, you’ve had it

Doctors’ abbreviations, acronyms and slang terms actually used on patients’ notes have been on the way out for some years now, according to this article from the BBC’s News Online, dated back in August 2003.

And not because of high technology or computerized patient records – [Read more…]

Daily Wail: FFS get horse jargon right (and dump the ancient clichés)

Daily Mail,horses,jargon,writing,cliches

Suze with a mighty, trusted steed sporting white stripes all over the place,
white ankles to match, cool black leather boots and subtle hair extensions
to enhance its glossy mane.
ZZZzzzzz. (Suze is on the left.)

Being a horsey type I often cringe at the “popular” media’s ideas on how to describe, er, an actress who rides a horse over a few fences. In this particular case, though, the UK’s Daily Mail really does take first prize for the most asinine and ridiculous use of what its writers think is the way to talk about horses.

Needless to say this is not the first time I have ranted on here about the most stupid ways in which journalists mislead and belittle those of us in the horsey world who get increasingly fed up with the old-fashioned clichés used to describe a sports culture which is huge in many countries.

And we’re not talking horse racing or snotty fox hunters here. We’re talking genuine competitive sports – much more intricate and demanding sports – that work for people from right across the socio-economic spectrum.

The vast majority of horse owners in western countries are not rich or privileged. They are working people who often need to sustain two or more jobs just to pay for their beloved horses’ keep, so they can enjoy the camaraderie and opportunities to compete and test their achievements that are out there, now, for everyone to enjoy.

So when we get patronizing, ignorant drivel being published by a so-called “popular” newspaper such as the UK’s Daily Mail that attempts to belittle what the the 3 million or so private horse owners in the UK are doing (plus their equivalents in the US and many other countries) … well, it makes me angry.

To illustrate my points…

Here are a few quotes from a recent article in the Daily Mail about the antics of the undoubtedly equine-friendly actress, Kaley Cuoco, who was photographed putting a nice-looking horse over a few fences the other day. And here, too, are my own growling comments based on quotes from that utterly ridiculous article…

Kaley Cuoco demonstrated her impressive show jumping skills yet again as she saddled up on Thursday. In the UK, and the DM is supposed to be a UK news resource, you don’t “saddle up:” you “tack up.” No doubt the DM is cosying up to US audiences once again.

With her trusty steed apparently out of action, the Big Bang Theory favourite was partnered up with an equally gorgeous chestnut equine beauty with a white stripe on its head, black flanks and white ankles, a long glossy mane and tail. Let’s skip over the “trust steed” cliché for now. But doh … the horse is a bright bay in color, not a chestnut (sorrel in the US) and the “white stripe” is a blaze. Horses don’t have ankles: they have fetlocks. But you got one bit right – they do have manes and tails.

Though her fears are perfectly understandable, especially seeing as she was riding a different horse than normal, not to mention the fact that she broke her leg in an unfortunate riding accident in 2010. Never mind that this sentence is grammatically wrong, she wouldn’t be riding this horse over fences if she was anything other than confident.

Nervous? However, as she approached some of the more challenging barriers, the star wore a look of fear mixed with pure exhaustion on her face They’re fences, not barriers, stupid. And in the photo (can’t share it here because of copyright issues) her facial expression shows concentration, not fear and exhaustion. Get a grip, you media hype-mongers.

She certainly looked the part in her full equestrian get-up, which consisted of dark brown jodhpurs, black leather knee-high boots which were decidedly dusty from the terrain… They aren’t jodhpurs, they’re breeches. The knee-high boots are probably ankle boots with matching half-chaps or gaiters, and of course they look dusty, you nitwit. She didn’t get hoisted on to the saddle by cherry picker so we must assume she walked through some dust to get there. Zzzzzz.

She donned a black helmet as she competed on the challenging course, while she also wore black leather gloves and carried a matching crop. Of course she “donned” a black helmet: not because it was a “challenging course” (it wasn’t) but because no-one other than a utter nincompoop would get on a horse without a helmet.

Back in the saddle: Any nerves wouldn’t be unwarranted, seeing as the star was riding a different horse than usual and the fact that she suffered a broken leg in a riding accident in 2010. Bullsh*t. You don’t jump a horse around a course of fences unless you’re pretty confident in the partnership, whether it’s your usual ride or not. (And don’t be lazy – why not come up with original captions rather than lifting lines out of the body text?)

The back-up plan: The 28-year-old regularly shares photos of her beloved horse Thor, even posting a video just last week of the pair doing some practise jumps, however, the gelding was apparently out of action come Thursday, resulting in this equally gorgeous steed filling in. Gorgeous steed … oh, perleeeze. He’s a nice looking bay horse. Enough with milking a rather weak photo opportunity already. And “steed?” We know the Daily Mail’s main audience is in the age range of 50+ but how many 21st century readers would refer to a horse as a “steed?” How many of them would even know what a “steed” is?

When two become one: The pair looked like they’d been riding together for years, moving in perfect unison, making it over even the trickiest of fences with ease. For starters the pair wouldn’t have been riding together, but never mind that. Much as your writers want to find high drama in this story those fences weren’t high, or tricky. Get a grip and learn what “horse jumping” is really all about.

blog,writing,news,blogging,business,Suzan St Maur,howtowritebetter.net, how to write bettIf you’re a horsey type please comment. And even if you aren’t, please share your views on these awful, groaning clichés that make us all grind our teeth, no matter what our hobbies and activities are!

 

Are you stuck in your jargon zone?

jargon,zone,clichés,business,communication,blogs,writing

Do you realize your jargon can put your business blog readers right off what you’re trying to communicate?

No matter how much we business writers insist that using too much jargon is a train wreck waiting to happen, it amazes me and many of my writing cohorts that people in many professions are so brainwashed by their jargon they simply cannot let it go and write as normal human beings. Even when their readers are normal human beings. [Read more…]

Why we need to give thanks to the USA

Thanksgiving,USA,America,Britain,humor,laughsOn the day when families gather all over the USA to give thanks, it’s only fitting that we here in the UK should think about the things for which we owe gratitude to our American friends. Here are some of my suggestions, and please help us out here by adding yours. Even if you’re American – tell us what we really should be grateful for. (And can we forget the Boston Tea Party once and for all please?)

[Read more…]

Writing about, er, donkeys! Bravo, Benjy

 

A short and totally true story of how we can learn so much about relationships from children and animals…

freeimage-1844359-webAt the farm where I kept my horse, there were two donkeys. One of them, Benjy, was very fearful of humans – with some justification, as he was a victim of cruelty and mistreatment before the farmer rescued him from his former home.

Even when I walked into the field brandishing carrots in my hand, Benjy wouldn’t approach. Although the other donkey trotted up to me expectantly, Benjy would hang back well out of range, longing to come forward but held back by his fear of what might happen next. If he was approached by someone he didn’t know, he became defensive and would bite or kick rather than let himself be caught. [Read more…]

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