Viktori Fashion – is it me, is it the hour, or is it the text?...

You all know the feeling. It's two p.m. Or one, or three – whichever is your lowest ebb time… You are either starving, stomach rumbling, or else full and lethargic (too many chips with your schnitzel?...) Your eyelids are heavy… your shoulders sag… You stare at your monitor, and/or at the text on your desk, your clipboard, your copy-holder… and nothing makes sense. The words are just blobs of ink or a concatenation of pixels…

Well guys, cheer up. I think it's not your fault. It's definitely the text!

I reached this encouraging(?) conclusion after gritting my teeth through the translation of a fashion house PR text.

What's with them? Just because they know(?) how to make clothes, does it follow that they're also qualified to write about it? If they're as successful and rich as they imply, can't they hire a copywriter to write a 2-page advertising thingy for them?

Here are a few select paragraphs from the company's – let's call it Viktori – advertising blurb (I've converted it into a .jpg so that it doesn't come out as gibberish on your computer):

Those of you who read Hebrew – I'm sure you share my anguish… And I actually rendered that stuff into half-decent English! Only half-decent, mind you, because I'm not being paid to do copywriting in this case. I can only tell my contact person that she should, diplomatically, suggest to the client to have the Hebrew "edited" before handing it in for translation.

In my lecture at the ITA conference in January 2005, and later in a similar lecture I gave at Bar Ilan University in December 2005, I spoke about the problem of dealing with badly written source material. I supplied amusing examples, illustrating a painful point. But my conclusion was: We translators have no choice; we can't adopt the GIGO approach, it will only backfire. We have to do the best we can to produce a decent text. I'm not saying "brilliant", but decent. Passable. If you have other solutions – I'll be only too happy to hear them.


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