Spelling mistakes

Discussion in 'The Late Night Cafe (off-topic)' started by pongi, May 12, 2003.

  1. pongi

    pongi

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    I know that, as a member of a people that notoriously speaks awfully any foreign language (as you can see from my posts :) ) I shouldn't ask this question, but it has always intrigued me.
    Why it's so difficult for you Americans to spell correctly foreign words? I noticed this the first time I went in US, just looking at the Italian restaurant menus. Apparently, finding a menu free from mistakes wan't possible...that's rather amazing, considering that looking for the correct spelling on a book or something like that should be a piece of cake.
    More, I thought that a professional chef should KNOW the real name of what he's cooking!
    Finally, I realized that you just DON'T CARE about spelling, even when you write in your own language - that's something unbelievable for we Italians.

    Recently I read the theory of an Italian writer about this issue. He argues that English spelling is so irregular that it's practically impossible to avoid mistakes, so you don't care about them. On the contrary, Italian spelling is very easy and any mistake is severely censured when we are at school (we're supposed to spell correctly any word after our 8th year of life!), so we grow believing that spelling mistakes are very serious ones and try to avoid them also when writing a foreign language (this is, generally, the only thing we do correctly when we speak another language:D )

    So, hoping that nobody has been hurted by my considerations, what's your opinion?

    Pongi
     
  2. mudbug

    mudbug

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    There are several factors that come to mind which might play a role:

    Is Italian a finite language as French is?
    English is not. It is forever incorporating slang and coined words keeping the English Dictionary people on their toes writing new editions.

    In my opinion, it is almost easier to write in a European language if you know the rules, phonetics and pronunciations are much more defined then they are here.

    There is a huge difference in educational systems between countries. Here, the importance of spelling is dependent on which teacher you get, some are stricter than others and from year to year, and itÕs easy for many students to slip thru the cracks.

    I don't believe it's that the menu writer's "don't care". I'm going to guess they are just ignorant and not taking the extra effort to have someone knowledgeable proofread the finished product, also, the actual chef may not write the menu.

    To answer your question, perhaps Americans take for granted that most other countries learn English as a second language - to a level that most average Americans will never learn any other secondary language because they don't need to. Yes, it's arrogant, I know... but there are also those Americans who can write in other languages just as well as if they'd been born in that country, though they may be few and far between.
     
  3. miahoyhoy

    miahoyhoy

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    Can you throw us some examples of these mistakes?

    Are you referring to things like us writing Almondine when technically it's Amandine
    and say, Veal Parmesan instead of Veal Parmigiana
    or perhaps, Veal Zurich Schnitzelette for Gescnetzeltes

    Many of these classic dishes are written thusly because of translation.
    Almond is Amande
    Parmesan is Parmigiana
    Nobody outside of Switzerland can pronounce Gescnetzeltes properly. :p

    Personally as and American I do care about my spelling which is why I would not accidentaly spell the word "wasn't" as "wan't"

    My balogna has a first name it's...

    Jon
     
  4. nancya

    nancya

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    Spelling and grammar errors are especially bad in translations. I'd think that one would have someone who actually spoke the language proofread, but that clearly isn't always the case.

    It is not limited to English, however. I'm pretty sure I originally got the link to Engrish.com here at ChefTalk. I've been privileged to find many examples of poor translations across the net, however.

    And as for my own speeling...I now use iespell whenever I remember to do so. It doesn't catch my grammar errors of course. Oh well.

    Let's see, some more fine examples...

    (Stolen from dribbleglass.com which seems currently unavailable)

    In a Bucharest hotel lobby: The lift is being fixed for the day. During that time we regret that you will be unbearable.


    In a Belgrade elevator: To move the cabin, push button for wishing floor. If the cabin should enter more persons, each one should press a number of wishing floor. Driving is then going alphabetically by national order.

    In a Yugoslavian hotel: The flattening of underwear with pleasure is the job of the chambermaid.

    In the lobby of a Moscow hotel across from a Russian orthodox Monastery: You are welcome to visit the cemetary where famous Russian and Soviet composers, artists, and writers are buried daily except Thursday.

    In an Austrian hotel for skiers: Not to perambulate the corridors in the hours of repose in the boots of ascension.

    On a menu in a Swiss restaurant: Our wines leave you nothing to hope for.

    On a menu of a Polish hotel: Salad a firm's own make; limpid red beer soup with cheesy dumplings in the form of a finger; roasted duck let loose; beef rashers beaten up in the country people's fashion.

    In a Hong Kong supermarket: For your convenience we recommend coourteous, effecient self-service.

    In a Hong Kong dress shop: Order your summers suit. Because is big rush we will execute customers in strict rotation.

    In Germany's Black Forest: It is strickly forbidden on our Black Forest camping site that people of different sex, for instance, men & women, live together in one tent unless they are married for that purpose.

    Swiss mountain inn: Special today--no ice cream.

    Tokyo bar: Special cocktail for the ladies with nuts.

    Norwegian cocktail lounge: Ladies are requested not to have children in the bar.

    Budapest zoo: Please do not feed the animals. If you have any suitable food, give it to the guard on duty.

    Acapulco hotel: The manager has personally passed all the water served here.

    Car rental brochure in Tokyo: When passenger of foot heave in sight, tootle the horn. Trumpet him melodiously at first, but if he still obstacles your passage then tootle him with vigor.

    Two signs from a Majorcan shop entrance: English well talking; Here speeching American.

    A Finnish hotel's instructions in case of fire: If you are unable to leave your room, expose yourself in the window.

    A notice in a Japanese hotel: Please not to steal towels. If you are not person to do such, please not to read notice.
     
  5. phatch

    phatch Moderator Staff Member

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    The main thing to consider is that you're considering a menu in America, not Italy. See? I can't even spell the name of your country correctly from the Italian perspective. But it is correct English.

    Consider, Cobnhavn becomes Copenhagen and so on and so on.
    How the heck do we get Germany out of Deutschland?

    It's not just a translation. It's often a transliteration.

    Phil
     
  6. mudbug

    mudbug

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  7. cape chef

    cape chef

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    So now I don't care.
     
  8. leo r.

    leo r.

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    I saw this howler in a shop window in Central London today,
    "Closeing down next week". I wonder why???:rolleyes:
    How about this one,someone put a notice on a goods lift that stated the lift was,out of ordor. I think someone was having a bad day.
     
  9. peachcreek

    peachcreek

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    Hukt oN FoNiX! It WerKT fER mE!
     
  10. pongi

    pongi

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    Oh,I was not speaking of grammar errors! From this view we Italians are unrivalled. In example, since this is a food site you should like to know how to use a neapolitan coffee maker.
    So, this is the original "english" translation of the

    "INSTRUCTIONS FOR THE USE OF THE NEAPOLITAN COFFEE-POT "A. PASSEGGIO"

    1)To fill before the inside part of the coffee-pot of coffee-powder.
    2)To screw in the filter on the inside-part of the coffee-pot.
    3)To fill of water the superior-body till the little hole.
    4)Introduce the inside-part of the coffee-pot in the superior-body (already filled of water before)
    5)Put the coffee-pot with the spout on the superior-body and put it finally on the fire.
    6)As soon as the water goes in ebullition, you will see the water coming out from the coffee-pot, just from the said little hole. Now, keep out the coffee-pot from the fire, upset it and remain it for some minutes in rest; in the meantime, the water will filter and will transform it in a very exquisite coffee, and you can serve it too."

    Apart from that, sticking to the "spelling" topic I agree with mudbug. Although Italian changes with time like any other modern language, its phonetic rules remain very strict - one sound, one letter, with few exceptions. So, a correct spelling is mandatory, or you'll get another word. This doesn't happen with English.
    But I'm not speaking about translations ... "Parmesan" instead of "Parmigiano" is OK. On the other side, if you write "Fettucini" or "Scallopini" or "Proscuitto" or "Spagetti Bolognaise" this isn't translation, it's misspelled Italian, so why not using the correct word?
    As for transliteration, I can't agree. If I opened in Italy a KFC place and wrote on my menus "CHENTACHI FRAID CICHEN" you'd laugh loud, and I'd be totally wrong!

    BTW...the correct Danish spelling for Copenhagen isn't Cobnhavn, but Kobenhavn (with the character for the Scandinavian throat "o" sound that I haven't on my keyboard);)

    Pongi
     
  11. phoebe

    phoebe

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    As someone who teaches writing as well as literature (in English) I agree with the others here who have noted that English spelling is notoriously difficult. Sometimes words are spelled the way they sound and many other times they are not. :crazy:
    But many Americans seem to want to spell words that are from another language the way we would spell them if they were English and the way we would spell them if they were pronounced the way we mispronounce them. It reminds me of the way that many Brits I’ve been around while traveling in France speak French. They have the grammar and the vocabulary, but they insist on pronouncing French as though it were English: not a pretty sound, I can assure you. :(

    As for misspellings on menus, maybe restaurant owners fear that Americans wouldn’t know what the dish was unless it was spelled the way we mispronounce it. :D

    And I LOVE the literal translations Pongi, Nancy and Leo. If you haven't read David Sedaris's "Jesus Shaves" from his book Me Talk Pretty One Day or, better yet, heard him read it on NPR, I recommend it. He describes an international group of adult students trying to learn French in a class in France. And he gives a literal translation of what they say as they try to explain Easter to a Moroccan student in beginner's French. Here is an example:

    "He call his self Jesus and then he die one day on two . . . morsels of . . . lumber . . . ."
    "He die one day and then he go above of my head to live with your father. . . ."
    "He make the good things, and on the Easter we be sad because somebody makes him dead today. . . ."
    "Easter is a party for to eat of the lamb . . . One too may eat of the chocolate."
     
  12. leo r.

    leo r.

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    Phoebe,i know some American people call U.K. citizens "Brits" but do you have to use this irritating term?I would rather be called a "Limey" than a "Brit".
    Meanwhile back at the ranch:Spelling mistakes.
    1)There are an incredible number of people in Britain who have a serious literacy problem.U.K. government figures put it at 7 million!!
    2)I`ve met some of these people myself.I once had a Christmas card addressed to Leo(chefe). This was from another member of staff!!
    3)Some more howlers,these are genuine i`m not making these up.This one from a takeaway in West London:pitza instead of pizza.How about this little gem from a pub just outside London:spegetti instead of spaghetti

    There are quite a few people in colleges in Britain whose spelling is less than perfect.Please remember folks that English language is not a pure language but a mixture.It stops people getting bored.:D
     
  13. phoebe

    phoebe

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    Sorry Leo. I didn't mean to offend. But, in my own defence, I picked up the term after hearing it used by several different friends over the years to describe themselves as well as fellow citizens of Great Britain. I just have come to think of it as a term of affection. :)
     
  14. leo r.

    leo r.

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    Phoebe,i`m not offended at all by your terminology.I`m absolutely certain that you are a sincere person.Your friends are leading you astray.:D
    p.s.the "p" of the "pitza" seems to have vanished.I may have joined that 7 million,oh dear!:rolleyes: I`ll have to wait until someone comes up with the old line:Can`t read or write,then fill out this form.
     
  15. mezzaluna

    mezzaluna

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    We ate out recently and read that the special of the evening was Chicken DeJohn. We were left to wonder...

    1. Is it a corruption of "de Jonge""? If so, chicken baked in butter, herbs and crumbs wouldn't be bad.

    2. Is it "dijon"? If so, the mustard would taste nice with the poultry.

    3. Is it related to the American colloquialism for toilet? :eek:

    We had the steak.
     
  16. phoebe

    phoebe

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    OH DEAR! You don't mean to say that even the distinguished, elderly man with the (old style) BBC accent was putting me on?!!:eek: Vous dites des horreurs! :eek: :eek: Who can one trust?

    And I just thought the "itza" was for "Itza Pitza!" :D
     
  17. kokopuffs

    kokopuffs

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    One younger person with whom I've worked (in Information Technology) blames his inability to spell on SPELLCHECKS afforded my computer software.

    When I started my college education in '71 one of the first books I purchased was a new dictionary. Do people still buy them? How old is yours, everyone? Try reading at least one page per day from the dictionary; it's a real learning experience. :lips:
     
  18. leo r.

    leo r.

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    I own a dictionary that is about 16 years old and it has seen better days.It`s like an old pair of training shoes,something i seem to be reluctant to part with.
     
  19. kokopuffs

    kokopuffs

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    Leo, then I suggest that you get a new edition of your old friend. New vocabulary will have been included in the new edition.
     
  20. phoebe

    phoebe

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    However, if you are someone who gets grumpy about language additions and evolutions (someone not unlike me :D ) you really don't want to see words like "lifestyle" standardized (I REALLY hate that term. Students often use it in place of "life." And I ask them if Jane Eyre had a "lifestyle" or if homeless people have a "lifestyle." :( But I digress). And if you are also someone who doesn't always appreciate the way popular culture turns nouns into verbs, you might not like reading a dictionary entry that lists interface and impact as verbs.;)

    But not everyone is grumpy (and not everyone is me . . . I? ;) )