Just a few days back, I received one of the strangest offers I've ever had (and that's saying something)!
A member of my "adopted" family, in France, deals in the undertaking business, and I've always been amazed to see just how much money is available in this "dark" side of life.
Transporting bodies, doing post-mortems, selling "accessories", arranging exhibitions, selling enormously expensive Rolls Royce or Mercedes hearses- totally equipped with "freezer" boxes and a whole lot more!
For some time, this "step-son" has been turning up at my home with various little "questions" - all roughly concerned with the same thing - how to translate undertaking matters into English and German!
Now - I knew that what he really wanted was an offer from me to do this out of the "goodness of my heart" - but seeing the tip of the financial iceberg, I thought that a small "contribution" to the coffers of Mr le Marquis would not go amiss, and would be tax off-setable anyway! So - I just offered the tantalising little bits, and pointed out the errors made by his expensive "translation programme tools", bought at 10 times the price I would envisage for a real "human" translation, done- of course - by myself!
(I'd got rather good at translating wierd things, after my run out with the Anglican Church and the Catholic Church, in France, for a usable translation of the Wedding Ceremony, acceptable by both parties - maybe now they will approach me for a usable version of the burial ceremony, but this time it WON'T be for free!)
Anyway- some of these errors were really quite horrific, but generally most amusing, and when one considers that having an Internet Site built costs a real fortune, it is preferable that the text one inserts makes some sort of sense!
This is difficult when one only speaks French (and that only just!) but wants to break into the International Market! Hence his efforts with translation "machines".
Imagine the customer who is looking to buy funeral Urns on a professional basis (ie - in quantity):
Not a great deal of demand for Ballot Boxes at funerals!
"Bougie" (the French word for candles) was translated as "moving around", giving a mental image of dancing candles around the coffin! It was also translated, elsewhere, as "ghost" (I suppose from the old English/Scottish word "boogie") - Ghost at least had some link to the general theme, but hardly something to order and keep in stock - just in case!
Fleurs - "Flowers" - was an obvious candidate for flour, but I couldn't imagine the defunct doing any baking, so the only item requiring flour may possibly have been the ghost - just to keep up the image!
Going through the whole document, I was struck by the fact that various things came up which I simply couldn't figure out!
Excavating machines suddenly became "your machine is not a boat!!!"
"Paris" (understandably) became "bets" (as in gambling!)
Now - all these were only the English translation problems, I didn't even bother looking at the German version!
All very logical, understandable (somewhere, somehow) - because the machine can only do what we ask it to, and if we tell it to do something which is wrong in origin, it's not the fault of the machine!
Anyway, all this led to an agreement that I would, in the future, accept responsability for all the translations and other contacts (by telephone, email etc) replying to queries by customers!
I'm still convinced that I didn't make my price high enough, but it's a start!
The moral of all this is quite simply that the old adage "where there's muck - there's money" still holds good!
Now I'm just waiting for the first payment from heaven (or hell) which will, with my luck, probably be a cheque, cashable only by personal appearance at "Heaven/Hell's Bank of Commerce"!!
It's also rather nice to know that machines can't do everything! Maybe there is still a little hope for the Human Being (translated into French "Etre Humaine" which can also mean "to be human" - something which is rare nowadays!)
I wonder what the machine would have translated it with?!!
PS! One of the common mistakes made by English speaking tourists in the French language, is also one of the most amusing. When one beleives that one knows a person sufficiently well, one can propose to address him/her in the personal form, ie using the form "Tu" instead of "Vous".
Such a proposal should be made using the verb "tutoyer", but almost always, the English speaker uses the verb "Tuer" - meaning "to kill"!
Keep on doing it, maybe the funeral accessoiries site can profit!