Bad English gives a bad impression

Dresden is the capital of the German federal state of Saxony. The English version of their website is written in “German English”. Here is an example: “General informations about right of residence for foreigners”.

What do you think when you read phrases like this?[YSaerTTEW443543]

TOEIC short conversations: Cleaning service customer calls company to make a complaint.[YSaerTTEW443543]

The site also uses LONGGGGGGGGG German sentences that are inappropriate in English, among other problems.

I think that the client who commissioned the translation didn’t know what he was doing and didn’t know how to evaluate translators.

– It could be that the client assumes that a German with high academic qualifications in English knows English “perfectly”.
– It could be that the client sends translation work to some preferred person who is either a personal contact or a local person who has developed an undeserved reputation as a good translator.
– It could be that the client is obligated to use substandard translators inside the city government.
– It could be that the client overestimates his own ability to judge the quality of a translation.
– It could be that the client didn’t have a native speaker edit the translation.
– Or it could be that the native speaker chosen to edit the translation is lazy or too diplomatic.
– Or it could be that the native speaker chosen to edit the translation has been in Germany so long that Germlish sounds correct to him.

There are a lot of things that can go wrong up and down the line.

What’s the problem with it?

Oh, here we go again! Molly’s going to assert that Germlish should be accepted as equally valid to standard English.

Let’s stick to Torsten’s original question and not have that argument again, okay EnglishUser…I mean, Molly?

Hi Molly,

Are you saying that a phrase like “general informations” should be tolerated on the official website of the city of Dresden?[YSaerTTEW443543]

TOEIC short conversations: Two co-workers discuss final stages of new advertising campaign.[YSaerTTEW443543]

I think I got a vague idea of what this sentence means.
By the by, it was quite a surprise for me to discover that Germans use “information” in plural. In Russian, information can be used only in singular (it’s uncountable).

I think information can’t be used in plural in English either.

Let me make a feeble attempt at correcting the sentence given by Torsten. Please correct me if I am wrong.

“General information about right of (or to) residence for foreigners”

I have a query here.

Can we, in any case, use equipment or furniture in plural form?

Say, there’s a shop that sells different kinds of equipment for different needs. Can we name it ‘ABC Equipments’?

There is a lack of professionalism inherent in such instances. Anyone, any small mom and pop shop in the most rural of areas, can use free translation programs on the internet to produce a bare bones translation of products and services offered.

The larger your operation and the larger your target audience, the greater the responsibility is for you to communicate clearly. A government agency has the highest responsibility. It represents the entire country. If taking the trouble to translate something into another language, there is no reason why it should not be perfect. If grammatical errors or not permitted in the native language site, why allow it in any other aspect.

No matter whom the reader is, if one reads such minor errors, there is a subconscious decision made that the authors are not “top notch”, one may get the opinion that “well, it’s not perfect, and it sounds weird, but at least they are trying”. That may be fine for a 2 year old toddler speaking sentences for the first time, or a visitor who has only been in a country for a few weeks, and is trying to order some soup, but not for an organization that wants to be taken seriously.

Using software, or non native speakers to translate will not do the job. Languages are not interchangeable, languages, dialects, slang, every aspect of communication that has been developed over the millennia has developed based on shared cultural experiences and beliefs of various peoples. It is near impossible to absolutely translate one language into another; it is far easier to translate a concept, or idea into a language.


Nope, it would be “ABC Equipment”. Then again, since it’s a business title, they could call it anything they want to.

There’s a US company called “Lands’ End”.

It should really be “Land’s End” – the end of land – but apparently a pedant didn’t create/name the company. hehe

I don’t think it will necessarily create bad impression. Some people just pay attention to the message or how the job is done, regardless of how ungrammatically incorrect(is this expression correct? please tell) the phrases were.

I experience this time and again, well it is a Japanese company (I know, such a cliche). They just don’t bother. As long as the message is conveyed, they will not be bothered with grammars or spellings. (Well, we all do mistakes but to a certain level, we care) And I think a lot of people from the engineering background think like this. Or at least people from other than the linguistic line.

At the company where I work, my name is not even spelled with a capital letter on the ECHO system, not to mention on PEXs(engineering experiment reports).

I brought this matter to a person in charge of the general affairs, to have it changed. And she told me she can’t see why I was making such a big fuss of it. Then I asked a friend (an engineer), whether I was making a big fuss of it and he said something like this.

“I understand your feelings, but I can’t see the difference. Your name is spelled correctly…”

You just gave up.

I think it should be ‘how gramatically incorrect the phrases were’.

Or should it be ‘however grammatically incorrect the phrases were’.

Some one please help both of us. :lol:

It’s tolerated here:

  1. Informations have for their object either to punish a crime or misdemeanor, and these have,.perhaps, never been resorted to in the United States or to recover penalties or forfeitures, which are quite common. For the form and requisites of an information for a penalty, see 2 Chit. Pr. 155 to 171. Vide Blake’s Ch. 49; 14 Vin. Ab. 407; 3 Story, Constitution, Sec. 1780 3 Bl. Com. 261

legal-dictionary.thefreedictiona … formations

Francis Bacon: ‘immediate informations of the sense’

Also: As a plural, do you use datum or data, Torsten?

So you mean that the immigrations office of Dresden should confront their candidates with formal accusations of a criminal offense instead of providing them with information?[YSaerTTEW443543]

TOEIC short conversations: Two people discuss a newspaper article featuring the company profile[YSaerTTEW443543]

Hey, Jamie, you come from a country that uses the incorrect plural form of datum. :wink:

Immigration[color=red]s office?

Anyway, for the folks back in Dresden and so on:

Tell me, what kind of replies to the thread question did you expect?

okay, i’ll answer the real question posed by this topic:

The '80s rock group Bad English had a few hits. Their biggest hit was “When I See You Smile”, on American radios in about 1989.

To a 13-year-old, that song was awesome – the prototypical “school dance” song, and just at the time when girls were becoming interesting.

I don’t even know what you’re talking about. The correct plural form of “datum” is “data”, and that’s what we use.

So it’s the incorrect singular form that you over there use, right?

Point is, what was once is no longer. It may be going that way with information/informations, in some variants. One never knows.

By the way, the plural of English is Englishes, for many. Time moves on.

Read the article. The singular use of “data” is not wrong. English is not Latin.

And your English is not everyone’s. :wink: