About 60% of my emails originate from China. I get so many emails from China in fact, that I have written up some of my standard responses in Chinese (with the help of Google Translate of course). I didn’t have to do this but I notice some of the emails I get are a little less well worded than others, which tells me that they are probably using a translation program to write them, or they aren’t as fluent in English as some others may be. I figured taking the time to translate a response back into their native language would be a nice gesture, and a time saver for them not having to run it through translation software.
Something I noticed though, was interesting. My standard response when I don’t want to review an item had always been: “No thank you, but keep me in mind for future reviews.” But when I translated it to simplified Chinese….
….and then translated it back to English it read:
“No thank you, but I remember a future review.”
This does not make much sense. They probably thought I was a bit batty. Evidently translating back and forth between languages is not so cut and dry. So it made me realize to get a understandable response I have to translate it from English to Chinese, then back to English to make sure it’s understandable – or so I thought.
What I have now is “No thank you , but give me an e-mail in the future, when you have more items for review.”
Which translates to: “不，谢谢你，但给我的电子邮件在未来，当你有审查多个项目。”
And it translates back to a somewhat imperfect “No, thank you , but to my e-mail in the future , when you have multiple items to review.”
This seem slightly more understandable. I think they can get the idea that I want them to send me an email when they have other items. I have tried multiple iterations but this one was the closest to intelligible that I could manage.
To all my Chinese partners on the other side of the globe, I’m sorry I butchered your language. Which translates to: “对不起，我宰了你的语言” And translated back to English reads: “I’m sorry, I could kill your language.”
Edit: No sooner was the proverbial ink dry on this blog post when one of my Chinese contacts helpfully corrected my bad Chinese translation:
It is clear I’m never going to be good with the Chinese language, but thankfully I can get a little bit of help when I need it.
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My blog archives have amazing vocabulary and sentence structure, see for yourself!