Tag: English

Oct 25 2011

English idiosyncrasies and idioms

Note: CFCA does not in any way promote one language over another. We respect all cultures. This post merely acknowledges the difficulties people face when translating words and phrases into another language.

English can present difficulties for people who haven’t grown up with all its idioms and idiosyncrasies. Yet it’s increasingly the international language of business.

If you write to your sponsored friend in English, you’re helping your friend learn a language that will almost certainly help in a future career.

We’ve blogged before about foreign phrases that don’t compute in English. Here are some more we’ve overheard in the last few weeks: Read more

Share this post:
Facebook Twitter Pinterest Plusone Reddit Email
Feb 25 2011

Foreign phrases that don’t compute in English

Although it’s based in Kansas City, CFCA is a global organization with more than 4,000 employees around the world.

Though many of our international colleagues speak English, we occasionally encounter the odd phrase or sentence that makes us wonder, “How come we’re speaking the same language but not always understanding one another?”

1) “He was promoted into glory.”

Means: He died.

Context: An elderly widow is awaiting sponsorship in Kenya, and three members of our communications staff encountered this strange phrase on the description the project sent us: ” Ö after her husband was promoted into glory.” Only one of us knew what that meant; the other two had no idea.

2) Which “DUI” is it?

Can mean: “Documento Unico de Identidad,” or unique identity document in El Salvador

Context: In the U.S., a DUI means “driving under the influence.” On the other hand, the national ID card in El Salvador lists a DUI, or unique identity document, for every citizen. Very different …

3) “I’m fighting to help my children.”

Means: “I’m struggling to provide for my children.”

Context: That pesky English language strikes again! Our child services department routinely gets descriptions of parents “fighting” to provide for their children who are living in poverty. We change it to “struggling” lest readers think these parents are champion boxers or prizefighters.

4) Help yourself … ?

Can mean: I need to use the restroom.

Context: In the U.S., we routinely say “Help yourself” when offering something to someone. For example, if there’s a cake on the table, we might invite guests to “help themselves.” In Kenya, that phrase is often a polite excuse to use the restroom ñ “I would like to go and help myself.”

For our sponsors who have been on mission awareness trips or perhaps seen a funny phrase in your sponsored friend’s letters, was there anything that ever puzzled you? Feel free to share with us in the comments below!

Share this post:
Facebook Twitter Pinterest Plusone Reddit Email
Mar 3 2009

Would it help if I wrote my letter using translation software?

Ask Sponsor ServicesQ. I do not speak the same language as my sponsored friend. Would it help if I wrote my letter using translation software?

A. We truly appreciate your desire to communicate with your friend in her or his native language. This language may be Spanish, Swahili, Hindi or one of many hundreds of indigenous languages.

CFCA employs translators to translate your letter into your friendís language. Although the translations may be less than perfect, the translators try very hard to convey the sentiments of sponsors and sponsored friends.

We prefer that you do not use translation software. Using such software often results in an unintelligible translation because the software is incapable of recognizing context and common phrases and expressions. For example, the word ìMassî can be translated as ìlumpî in Spanish. That is only one example among many. Sometimes, the translations are so poorly constructed, the letter must be returned to the sponsor.

If you do decide to use translation software, please include the English version of your letter so the translator can use it as a reference.

Thank you for writing to your friend. Letters are an important part of the sponsorship relationship and a sign of your love.

Share this post:
Facebook Twitter Pinterest Plusone Reddit Email