When keeping it wrong is right

May 1, 2023

Time to air out some more translation related frustrations. The following is going to sound weird, but it’s just a silly example. πŸ˜Άβ€πŸŒ«οΈ

Let’s say there’s a global effort to reach multiple goals to…provide everyone with pretty kitty litter. The UN creates the term Pretty Kitty Litter Goals. 🐈✨ Company X wants to support these efforts – these shiny new PKLGs – and creates a department just for all things pretty kitty litter related!

Do they call it their (A) PKLGs Office or their (B) PKLG Office?

I’m inclined to go with B, and so does the English-speaking world. Option A is only ever found on Japanese sites that have their content translated into English.

Well, perhaps the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan made a booboo and everyone else just followed along in using PKLGs as the plural of the abbreviation and also the adjective?

When English is used in Japan, it’s mostly for the Japanese public, so it doesn’t have to be 100% accurate, or even 60% accurate…or 5% accurate. Which is whatever, but also how we get ubiquitous phrases like “let’s cooking,” store signs reading “close” instead of “closed,” as well as a government-backed campaign officially called “go to travel” (I guess because everyone knows the phrase go to hell? πŸ˜…) etc.

Companies will either want the English to actually appeal to an English-speaking audience OR for it to serve as a design element, status symbol, or fluff. At the end of the day, it’s not that serious. πŸ€·β€β™€οΈ But it still gets to me lol.

I dealt with something similar to the PKLG example recently. On the 1% chance I could influence anything, I tried to explain how you might have “many NGOs” but would say “many NGO offices” not “many NGOs offices.” Well, they needed things to stay consistent with past translations and requested things stay wonky. 🫑

Sure, language is always changing and as long as the point gets across, it’s all good. Most people will see something like “close” on a store’s door and put 2 & 2 together. I dunno, it’s different when you’re personally working on something, though. 😭


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