Thursday, September 9, 2010

Fingers tired sez Yoda/Bama

When my other paying clients abandon me because they don't have projects for me to do, I have a Web-oriented company for which I do writing. Much cheaper than I should but it's more than minimum wage (you can see how lofty my standards are) and so I do it. And they're steadier, usually, than other clients so I can count on having at least some amount of paying work trickling in.

Not all Web companies have a large cadre of people hard at work in India but this particular one does. We've gone through many different work scenarios but what works best for them (note that this is not necessarily best for me) is for their Indian crew to write the content for the primarily American audience and then have me "Americanize" it. Their theory is that it's less expensive to have the Indians do the writing and then get it fixed by an American. Hey it's fairly steady work and I get to make all the "do you want a Slurpee?" jokes in my head that I want as I listen to a typical Indian male voice speaking their words in my head. Yes, I do hear voices as a matter of fact.

Seriously, I'm not a bigot in any way against any ethnicity or people but after editing and rewriting Indian-written copy for the last three or four years, I can honestly say that most of their workers may know English but they sure don't know American English. I tell my contact person in India the very same thing so I'm not speaking behind their backs. I now understand completely how translation companies in my former corporate life would always insist that translating for French Canada wasn't the same as translating for residents of France.

Some of their phrasing is hilarious and recently I've copied a few of the better ones to keep and share. I'm not sure that the funny will come across but here are some recent samples. My comments are in italics.

*100% genuine guidance and aid whenever required (OK, what is there other than 100% genuine guidance? And I'm not sure which adjective modifies which word there either.)

*Allowing boaters to breathe safely in the water (Really?)

*Seek Professional Assistance For A Good Time In The Sea (For a good time in the sea, call 1-800 Pop-Eye)

*spend time with family and closed ones or friends (OK, this is an innocent typo but I thought it was funny, particularly since Americans would say loved ones, not close ones)

*water related activities like Water Boarding, Waterskiing, ... (I cracked up about this one, terrible as it is. They meant surf boarding, not water boarding, and I sent a comment back to correct this one for the future)

*A recent study did at Stanford University (Like I said, they know English but not all that well)

Last week I committed to an assignment to write 250 articles of 350 words apiece within 25 days. I've been steaming along this week on the writing with words pounding out of my fingers and swirling around my head. While I really love writing, I'm not used to writing promotional advertising copy all that much and find it hard to use the word phenomenal multiple times within a sentence. But at least this was original writing and not correcting massacred English written by young Indians who probably make a couple dollars a day, if they're lucky.

I wrote 10 articles this morning (10 x 350 = 3500 words before noon) and then took a break to go to Target and grocery shopping. When I came back, there's an email telling me to stop immediately on the project. So this beautiful head of steam I have been building up is now completely kaput. But, on the bright side, I have my afternoon and maybe tomorrow back to get ready for company tomorrow evening.

While this is a somewhat steady gig, it is like this a lot. "One step forward, two steps back, nobody gets too far like that," courtesy of Desert Rose Band. Ah well. Find the bright side and keep slogging forward.

Speaking of strange wording, do you have a radio commercial playing currently that talks about a smokeless cigarette? There's a line in the commercial that says, "It’s made by SmokeAway so you know it’s good." Really? What in the blue blazes do I know about SmokeAway and why does just their name assure me that the product is good. This is the frightening power of advertising -- just because they say it's good, you are to assume that it is.

Amazing, huh? Any other crazy ads or incongruous messages/words that you'd like to share? My fingers are tired so I'm gonna stop now.

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