Author Topic: [rant]why do english/chinese companies don't give a damn about other languages..  (Read 12058 times)

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Offline RGB255_0_0

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Probably from the Valleeees.

Us UKers have some brilliant accents. Scouse, Geordie, Somerset, Bristolian. Us Somerset tratt'r lot speak propa, propa liiiike.  :P
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Offline blueskull

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Is there any major non-English speaking country that does not mandate English education? I do not see the need of language variety in engineering.
Many courses I took in college in China use English as lecture note text language, and many internal documents of our lab are in English as well.
 

Offline ebclr

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Nobody speak English in China, They rarely can speak Chinglish

Look on Taobao for Bok's near 99% is in mandarim
 

Offline tautech

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Nobody speak English in China, They rarely can speak Chinglish
I found much the same when I visited Siglent, all talk in the building was in Chinese although when I needed to communicate with them English was not too much problem.
But yes on the street is a different matter but if you're lucky and can get the attention of a few people you can generally be understood.  :phew:
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Offline blueskull

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Nobody speak English in China, They rarely can speak Chinglish

Look on Taobao for Bok's near 99% is in mandarim

No one speaks English in China as a daily language, but many can at least read documents in English.
Many engineering books sold in China are republished (directly copied without translation) from CRC, Prentice Hall, McGraw Hill or O'Reilly.
 

Online nctnico

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Is there any major non-English speaking country that does not mandate English education?
France, Germany, Italy, Spain to name a few. Korea and China are also particulary bad.
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Offline AntiProtonBoy

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Germany? When did that change? When I was going to school there back in the 80s, English was a required subject.
 

Offline Cervisia

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Germany? When did that change? When I was going to school there back in the 80s, English was a required subject.

In Germany, the general qualification for university entrance ("Abitur") requires two foreign languages.
In theory, English is not required to be among them. In practice, it's unlikely that your school would even be capable of teaching you such an unusual combination.
 

Offline VK3DRB

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Everything should be translated into only one language: Australian English. Why? English is the world's standard language for commerce and computing. Australian English is merely a perfection of it, which has taken us 200 years to achieve.

Seriously though, both English and French have a lot of bugs in their language, mainly with ambiguities and inconsistencies. But having masculine and feminine for nouns is simply bad design. There is no logical reason to make a language more complicated by having gender for nouns.
 

Offline coppice

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Is there any major non-English speaking country that does not mandate English education?
France, Germany, Italy, Spain to name a few. Korea and China are also particulary bad.
In Korea and China students take English throughout school and university, regardless of the main subjects they are studying. English standards may still be weak in these countries, but they do make English a high priority, and they are very keen to find ways to improve their results.
 

Offline vodka

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Is there any major non-English speaking country that does not mandate English education?
France, Germany, Italy, Spain to name a few. Korea and China are also particulary bad.

At Spain for Primary Education( Obligatory School) , Secondary education(Obligatory High School) and Bachelor(Non-obligatory High school) is mandatory during many years ago.
At change , at Universitary education is mandatory to obtain the grade B1 at English for graduate since 2010(For application Bologna Plan).

Here  the people is studying English since 8 years old(now since  5 years old)and they terminated the obligatory education with the same English that they began.
The blame isn't the students, that is the teacher that are an useless and lazy.

 I  was two years without  understanding any English.  The two teachers that i had ,they counterfeited the qualifications (They put that i understood the english)
Until that the next year came a new teacher at school ,she did us an exam for discovering which was the english level at the classroom. 

She was horrorizied and indignantly, anybody of the classroom knew to conjugate the verb "to be ". She had to do the work that the last teacher didn't do

 
 
 

Offline JPortici

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Here  the people is studying English since 8 years old(now since  5 years old)and they terminated the obligatory education with the same English that they began.
The blame isn't the students, that is the teacher that are an useless and lazy.
i'm more prone to blame the kids. same situation here, i started studying english at 8, now they do it in preschool/kindergarten.
and yet at the end of high school we had half the class that couldn't be able to elaborate a sentence more complex than "the cat is on the table" while the other half had received B2 certification at 16.
 

Online Cerebus

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Germany? When did that change? When I was going to school there back in the 80s, English was a required subject.

I have literally never met a German who couldn't manage at least a basic conversation in English, and I've met a *lot* of Germans. I've met Turkish Gastarbeiter* in Germany who could only speak Turkish or German, but no native Germans who couldn't at least manage directions to the Hauptbahnhaus or similar in English.

*If you've been to Germany you could be forgiven for thinking that Gastarbeiter was German for taxi driver, but it isn't.
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Offline blueskull

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Here  the people is studying English since 8 years old(now since  5 years old)and they terminated the obligatory education with the same English that they began.
The blame isn't the students, that is the teacher that are an useless and lazy.
i'm more prone to blame the kids. same situation here, i started studying english at 8, now they do it in preschool/kindergarten.
and yet at the end of high school we had half the class that couldn't be able to elaborate a sentence more complex than "the cat is on the table" while the other half had received B2 certification at 16.

Probably some individual factors. At the age of high school final year, I spoke Japanese (my second foreign language) better than many of my classmates speaking English.
Being said, many Chinese kids are exposed to American TV shows/musics and regular (1~2 hrs per day) English class, with some of the richer kids have native speakers to help them learning English.
Still, many cannot speak fluent English, but most well educated kids, when grow up, can understand English easily in written form and write documents in English.
Of course, I am talking about Chinese kids being raised in big, major cities with middle class parents. In undeveloped areas like northwestern China, kids are still not exposed to English enough.
I had my 4 years college life in a northwestern university, and I know many local K12 schools do not even have a single English teacher that can actually orally communicate in English.
But in developed areas, each class in final year high school or middle school has a couple of students that speak very fluent English, good enough to live in an English speaking country.

The reason you see so many poorly written eBay listings is because these people who sell on eBay in China usually do not have good education. China has 1.3 billion population, but only a small fraction can contribute to the society, which they mostly choose a highly paid job in a big international company, or state owned company, or like me, move abroad.
 

Offline John Coloccia

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Having traveled all over, for work and other reasons, one thing I've come to understand is a LOT of people speak English. Older generations, not so much. Young folks? Almost everyone seems to have a working knowledge, and as time progresses I think English will basically become the default language, much like what Esperanto wanted to be. These days, the only thing Esperanto is good for is sitting around talking about how wonderful it is that 5 other people know Esperanto.

Would have been better if another language was "the one", as English really quite terrible in many ways, but that's just how it is I think. I suspect the only reason so many manuals are in Chinese at all is that they start out in Chinese.

But I always find it amusing when I travel to a foreign country, be it Europe or Asia, and notice so many signs are in English. That always seems a little odd to me. I will say that France and Germany seem to be exceptions to this. Switzerland too in some respects. They seem to be more firmly attached to their own culture.

 

Offline Richard Crowley

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One of my favorite PBS documentaries from back in the 1980s.  "The Story of English" with Robert MacNeil.
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL6D54D1C7DAE31B36

At that time the largest English-speaking country (and the country pubishing the most English language books, magazines, etc.) was India. Post cold-war, things have probably changed. But the history is interesting nonetheless.
 

Online Cerebus

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At that time the largest English-speaking country (and the country pubishing the most English language books, magazines, etc.) was India. Post cold-war, things have probably changed.

I doubt it. English is still an official language in Indian and is the Lingua Franca for all non-Hindi speaking Indians. Indian courts work in English. Remember that there are about a dozen languages in common use in Indian - there is a long history (dating back all the way to independence) of resistance to the use of Hindi as the only official language as that would severely disadvantage the non-Hindi speakers.
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Offline Macbeth

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I was quite amused at a nice torrent I found - all the Elektor magazines from 1974 to 1990. Apparently the early editions are UK but the collector realised the Indian edition was exactly the same and much cheaper too way back in 1984. The only difference are the adverts - replace Edgware Road, London with Chunam Road, Bombay  :-DD Hang on, that's Mumbai now isn't it?

But yes, I can confirm the Indian version of Elektor magazine is totally English.
 

Offline JPortici

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The reason you see so many poorly written eBay listings is because these people who sell on eBay in China usually do not have good education.

well i'd give the blame to ebay's automatic translation, which is much worse than google translate (doesn't matter if you give zero stars for the translation, you can't suggest a better one. at least google asks you for that). that is embarassing too. i'm searching for this specific term, not for what you think is the translation... for example in an english ad "probe" will have a different translation based on the words used in the title  :palm:
 

Online CatalinaWOW

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These things change over time.  It used to be that Latin was the language for technical documents.  There were still remnants of that in the late nineteenth century.  Then for a long time things followed whoever was doing the best bleeding edge technical work.  The French speakers, then briefly the Germans, and for a while it was the English speakers. 

Right at the moment the good technical work is spread all over the world, and English is filling the role that Latin used to, the agreed common language of people from a wide variety of linguistic backgrounds.

If one language group starts to dominate the leading edge of techology I suspect that language will take over.  There are some signs that Chinese may be that language group, but it is too early to say for sure.  There is a lot of oil money in the middle East trying to make Arabic that language, and who knows, they may succeed.   There aren't a lot of likely candidates, and English may hang on for another century.
 

Offline sleemanj

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I think that in the first instance, English's position as the defacto common denominator language is fairly secure, but of course, language, especially English maybe more than any other, is not some rigorous stable standard and what we are speaking in another 200 years might be called English but will almost certainly be at least a bit different to what we speak now.

But in the second instance, the ability of machine translation has exploded over recent years.  It's simply amazing that, less than 20 years after babelfish.altavista.com started that we now have at least two major translation services, translating piles of languages, in basically real time, and doing a pretty reasonable job of it, so much so that you can set your web browser to auto translate pages on the fly when viewing foreign language sites and you will at least get a pretty good idea of what is being said.  Add to this the advances in voice recognition, AI, and machine learning.... I really don't think it's that far away that we will have an actual thing we can stick in our ears and be fed translated information, we might call this, the Babel Fish.  AT which time, the universal language is whatever language you choose.
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Offline tooki

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.. but offer translated versions of their website/documentation anyway?
why can't you pay a professional to translate your website instead of relying on google translate?

(I actually wanted to say that they don't give two shits but i think that maybe it's not title-appropriate)

for example, fluke 117 (apply to every page in the fluke website)
Display - Digital: 6,000 counts, updates 4 per second

in italian it was translated as "updates every 4 seconds". what the hell!!

i'm not asking for a perfect translation but at least avoid these  :palm:-grade errors
after all we give it a honest try

and don't get me started on manuals.  :scared:
I worked at a software company a few years ago, hired as a native English speaker to translate their product, and all other customer-facing text (manual, website, email templates, etc.) from German into English so they could expand beyond German-speaking countries. It's not as trivial as you think. Finding translators is easy; finding good translators is hard. But the real pickle, which AntiProtonBoy mentioned, is change management. If you change something in one place, you need to update that change throughout all the languages you support. If you're lucky, the company is using a content management system with CAT (computer aided translation)* support. Otherwise, you're sitting there comparing source document versions to find the changes the author made. Oh, and get it done by yesterday. (For sure, once a company goes to the effort of setting up good infrastructure and processes for multilingual text, adding additional languages becomes easier, but the cost for translation remains high.)

Every language you add support for, you're adding delays into product launches, updates, etc. It's often more pragmatic to support a few languages that cover lots of people.

Frankly, most companies have entirely given up on end-user documentation altogether, reducing it to quick-start guides and FAQs. I remember when computers came with 300 page manuals, applications came with 1000 page binders, etc. Documentation is expensive, and most companies seem to have decided that users do just fine without it. (And given how many users categorically refuse to consult documentation anyway, I can't entirely blame them.)




*CAT is not machine translation. CAT tools manage human-generated translations (in "translation memory" and terminology databases) and help a human translator bang out a document translation that is consistent with the company's existing translations. For example, if it knows that in prior documents, you translated "10 inch touchscreen display" into "10-Zoll Touch-Bildschirm", it will suggest that existing translation whenever it encounters that phrase, so you don't create a new translation, like "10 Zoll Touch-Display". The granularity should extend from short phrases to whole sentences, if they are often reused.
 

Offline coppice

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One of my favorite PBS documentaries from back in the 1980s.  "The Story of English" with Robert MacNeil.
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL6D54D1C7DAE31B36

At that time the largest English-speaking country (and the country pubishing the most English language books, magazines, etc.) was India. Post cold-war, things have probably changed. But the history is interesting nonetheless.
The largest English speaking country is still India, and its becoming more English speaking every day. The huge number of middle class Indians employed directly or indirectly by western companies, and the migration of people with a variety of mother tongues to major centres like Bangalore, are driving this. When I was in India 20 years ago it was common to hear English conversations between groups in public places, like restaurants, but they were mostly business groups using a common language. Now it is common in Bangalore to hear families talking in English, as its the only language the husband and wife share.

You have other things pushing English forward. Friends in Bangalore who are from northern India want their children taught in Hindi and English. This requires them to send their children to international schools, as the local schools teach in English plus one of a selection of Southern Indian languages. In the international schools all the kids want to learn is English. Sure, they learn to speak Hindi at home with their parents, but the schools struggle to get them to take reading and writing Hindi seriously.
 

Online Cerebus

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These things change over time.  It used to be that Latin was the language for technical documents.  There were still remnants of that in the late nineteenth century.  Then for a long time things followed whoever was doing the best bleeding edge technical work.  The French speakers, then briefly the Germans, and for a while it was the English speakers. 

It's a bit more involved than that. Latin was the common language of scholars, French was the common language of diplomacy. Latin fell out of favour, as you say, in the late 19th Century; French held on well into the 20th Century which is why so many international bodies are or were, know by their French initials (e.g. the CCITT, now the ITU).

Thus we get the modern English use of the Latin tag Lingua Franca*  for a common language used by a group of speakers of disparate languages - a strange bastardization indeed. German never really made it as a Lingua Franca, it's technical use was restricted largely to chemistry and mathematics and its diplomatic use to the inter-related and inbred royalty of Europe.

* Literally, "language of the Francs" or as you and I would say "French".
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Online CatalinaWOW

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In chemistry, mathematics and physics and to a lesser degree, aerodynamics,  there was a brief period when anyone who wanted to be on the forefront learned German.  Because many of the best papers were written in German.   I agree, German never really became a language that non-Germans generated documents in.

They self terminated their leadership before that developed.
 


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