CHE Business English

CHE Business EnglishCHE Business English.

FMM (2) frequently made mistakes.

“It got lost in translation”, is sometimes said about word plays. And it’s true that puns, together with jokes, are often impossible to translate. Or, indeed, they get lost in translation.

On the other hand, translations are often unintentionally a source of joy to the reader. Have you figured out what the Dutch student of my previous blog meant by cousin activities ? [See entry of May 2014]. If not, just translate the two words back into Dutch…

Joop den Uyl, one of our prime ministers, once said: “We are a nation of undertakers”. He thought he was saying that we are a nation of entrepreneurs whereas what he really said was that we are a nation of funeral directors (OALD).

You can imagine that an eyebrow or two was raised in surprise.

FMM or frequently made mistakes.

Dictionaries are extremely useful tools in language learning. In the hands of unskilled users, however, they can turn into veritable towers of Babel. One of the funniest mistakes I remember, was made by a student in my secondary school who wanted to study in America and had to write a letter of application to show his level of English.

When talking about his future, he wrote that he wanted to study rights, thinking, of course, that he was saying he wanted to study law. His teacher, not wanting to just give the correct answer, suggested he should take another look at this phrase. So the boy consulted his dictionary again and wrote that he wanted to study straights. Needless to say his application was turned down.

One of my own students once wrote on a feedback form: what me concerns, both have right. And it honestly took me a while to figure out what she was trying to say.

I’ll end this entry with a riddle mistake that Dutch people will be most likely to solve. The mistake in question was made by a student writing his CV in which he talked about his cousin activities .

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