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The other day at work I was asked to proofread a page that included instructions on how our company is trying to create a common company culture. The person who wrote it originally does not have the best English skills and there were a lot of things that had been translated literally from Swedish, so it was more work than I expected. One phrase that had been used was "find new ways" (hitta nya vägar), and it sounded very Swenglish to me in the context that was wanted (finding AND making) so I changed it to "forge new paths" instead.

He came back later and said that he had reacted quite strongly to the word forge and had asked two other Swedes, who both agreed with him, that it was a negative word. At this point, I'm just staring at him with a blank look on my face. WTF? Then he says, "you know, like forging MONEY."

OOOOH THAT kind of forge!

I explained that "forge" isn't a negative word and that, in fact, while the ACT of forging money is a negative thing in a societal context, the word ITSELF has many other uses, none of them negative.

He wouldn't believe me and I finally said, fine, use "find new paths" just to get him to go away.
perplexed
mood: perplexed
music: Jayhawks—Bad Time


Comments

Ugh! Tell the guy to forge a path to the dictionary!

There were a few like that when I started at my company, but after a while they figured out that I have a Masters in English, and _do_ actually know what I'm talking about. I still get the odd argument, but if I can point to a reason why, they're usually happy to back down.

Don't give up next time. Forge is an excellent word, and forging a new path has so much more imagery than find. There are plenty of words in Swedish that mean more than one thing. Fjäder, just to name one.

Sorry for babbling. This kind of ignorance (on his part) just irritates me, especially when it comes to my baby, language issues. :)

LOL! I'll try your suggestion about forging a path to the dictionary, wish I'd thought of saying that!! I don't usually give up very easily, but this guy is just such a humorless pain-in-the-ass, I couldn't wait to get him out of my office.

Ahh, one of those. Understood. :)

Oh man, I get so annoyed when Swedes (or any other non-native English speaker) argues with me about the use of English words. It's just so ridiculous!

"Forge a path to the dictionary..." I love that!! hahahahaha

Well....now I don't chide them completely on this issue, as just speaking a language doesn't necessarily make one an expert...just look at most of the people we see on Ricki Lake or Jerry Springer after all!

However, if they can tell a person is well-spoken, as I can nowadays with most Swedish speakers, I usually know which ones to ask about a word or phrase, and which ones to avoid like the plague. And you'd think they could tell that we are articulate enough to know what we're talking about. And in any case, if they're not going to believe us, why did they ask in the first place?

And now I read over that, and it makes less sense in writing than it did in my head, so I'll just leave off now. :) Silly me!

'Forge new paths' is a great improvement! I always wondered why Swedish companies and tourist bureaus have such crappy writing and translations in their bochures when there are native English speakers in the country capable and willing to make them more readable and exciting (not to mention grammatically correct). I like Jessica's idea of telling this guy to forge a new path to the dictionary--all the better if he interprets it in a negative light!

Oh goodness, you are a kind soul. I have put a stop to proof-reading English papers for people around me because without a doubt it always comes down to...

"Why is it that way I just don't get it?" them
"It just is that way in English, I know that this is right, but you will have to look it up to find just why..." me
"Well isn't it just as equally good my way?" them
"to me as a native english speaker, no... is it a huge error? no...is it equally right? no..."
"but......"

Now I will only do this for money! :)

LOL! Well, I WAS at work, so I WAS getting paid, if you want to look at it that way. It's one of my so-called "duties" at work :)

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