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Tag Archive | mistakes

Lost in translation…you failed at grasping English

As most adventurous travellers know, when exploring the far and remote corners of the world, it can be difficult to communicate clearly.

Try as we might to understand the local rhetoric and interact effectively, there’s still something to be said for those hilarious moments of misunderstanding.

One of the instances most easy (and most fun) to misinterpret?

Signage gone wrong.

Doug Lansky has collected the best signage fails from his travels around the world for Lonely Planet’s latest book. Pictured: a hotel sign points out the obvious in Austin, Texas

Although the prices are unclear, a Beijing cafe’s tasteless coffee option seems far less appetising

In Essex, England, this sign doesn’t do a very good job of keeping this top-secret location under wraps

And that is the topic of Lonely Planet’s latest book: Ultimate Signspotting: Absurd And Amusing Signs From Around The World.

For those who enjoy living life on the edge, this sign in Suzhou, China, is made for you

This sign in Rome, Georgia, has us asking: how much do new rainbows go for?

It’s clear from this Ambridge, Pennsylvania sign that Reverend John Ritter is one very content fellow

‘That is, new hilarious signs are going up all the time. At times, it seems like a race between the people who put up these ridiculous signs and those who try to photograph them.

‘Over the last 20 years, I’ve gathered well over 50,000 sign photos from well-travelled amateur and professional photographers.

‘Trying to decide which is unintentially funny enough to merit inclusion in a Signspotting book has been a challenge.

‘Trying to select favourites among those for this ‘ultimate collection’ has been downright unnerving.’

In Maui, Hawaii, the definition of the word ‘bottomless’ clearly means 65 feet

Slippery pedestrians are a problem when it rains, according to this grammar fail in San Francisco, California

A local dental clinic in Taipei, Taiwan sure doesn’t do much to assure nervous patients

In Dublin, Ireland, drivers are encouraged never to settle for second best

Ironically, the view of this New Hampshire sign is anything but clear

Commuters in Camebridge, Massachusetts, are warned of some major delays with this hilarious sign

Ears too floppy? Nose too long? According to this sign in Jaipur, India, there are people here to help

SOURCE

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Another 10 Words That You’ve Probably Been Misusing

girl-confused

Tyler Vendetti

There are so many words in the English language that it’s not surprising that the definitions for some of them have gotten mixed up over the years. It’s possible that you’ve gone your entire life without realizing your mistakes. I’m sure people have noticed. How long have you been using that word incorrectly, you wonder? How many angry Facebook rants have you ruined with your improper grammar? While I can’t give you an answer to those questions, I can at least provide you with a list of other tricky words so that you may never have to suffer from this embarrassment ever again:

1. Travesty

What you may think it means: a tragedy, an unfortunate event

What it actually means: a mockery; a parody

This one, I’ll admit, is my own personal error. For the longest time, I equated travesty with tragedy, mostly because in passing, they sound like the same word. It’s stupid, I know, but if you knew how many times I confused fetal position with beetle position, you wouldn’t be laughing. It’s a serious problem.

2. Ironic

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These 9 Words Don’t Mean What You Think They Mean

The following is an excerpt from The Curmudgeon’s Guide to Getting Ahead, in which author Charles Murray discusses words with meanings that have changed — and not always for the better.

1. Disinterested

Disinterested used to mean uninterested.
The meaning of disinterested is “free of bias and self-interest.” It is essential that a judge be disinterested, for example. Disinterested does NOT, repeat NOT, mean “lack of interest” or “uninterested.” I put this so emphatically because we’re not talking just about proper usage. Disinterest used in its correct sense is on its last legs—I’ve been appalled to see it misused in articles in the Washington Post and other major publications. English does not have another word that conveys the meaning of disinterested as economically. If we lose the distinctive meaning of the word, we have measurably degraded our ability to express ourselves in English.

 

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Tips to Improve Your Business Vocabulary

Written by Lynn Gaertner-Johnston, Syntax Training

In the business writing classes I lead, people often tell me they want to use the right verbiage to come across professionally. The first tip I offer them is to get rid of words such as verbiage, whose meaning has been muddied and is not what people typically think it is. (Read my blog post “Watch Your Verbiage” to learn the many meanings of verbiage.)

Apply these tips to improve your language:

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Avoiding Cross-Cultural Faux Pas

What could be wrong with sipping vodka in Russia? Or with eating with your left hand in India, or with patting the back of a colleague in Korea to thank them for a “job well done”?In many countries, these actions are harmless. But in others, they can give a wrong impression or cause offense. They could even damage a relationship or ruin a major deal.

In fact, whatever culture you’re from, it’s likely that you routinely do something that could cause offense somewhere else in the world.

Avoiding Cross-Cultural Faux Pas
You may cause offense if you use chopsticks incorrectly.
© iStockphoto/imagestock

In this article, we’ll discuss why it is so important to be aware of different cultural traditions. We’ll also highlight some gestures and actions to avoid if you want to build good working relationships with people from these cultures.

The Importance of Cultural Awareness

It’s not just professionals working overseas who need to learn cross-cultural business etiquette. Stop and think about how many different cultures you come into contact with at work.

Even if you work in your home country, your colleagues and suppliers could hail from other cultures. Your organization might decide to acquire or merge with an organization in a different country. And your customers, too, may be located in dozens of countries worldwide.

Our world’s diversity is what makes it so fascinating. When you take time to understand the reasons for this diversity, you show respect for other people’s cultures. And when you do this in a business context, you’ll improve your working relationships and develop your own reputation.

Considering Cultural Differences

Consider the following questions when thinking about how a culture might differ from your own:

  • What values does this culture embrace? How do these values compare with those of your culture?
  • How do people make decisions, conduct relationships, and display emotion?
  • How does this culture treat time and scheduling?
  • What are the social rules and boundaries surrounding gender?
  • How does this culture display and respect power? Which authority figures are revered?
  • How do individuals relate to their employers?
  • How do people in this culture communicate? How direct are they in what they say and mean?
Tip 1:
See our article on cultural intelligence to learn how to work well in different cultures. This is a powerful skill that can be learned and developed throughout your working life.Tip 2:
Be humble. Whatever you learn about cultural differences, there will be local and regional variations that you won’t know about. Admit that you’re keen to learn, and encourage people to tell you about these variations.

Common Cross-Cultural Mistakes

Below we’ve listed actions and items that could cause offense in a variety of cultures and countries. (Note, however, that this list isn’t exhaustive!)

Food

People abstain from eating and drinking certain foods for many religious and cultural reasons. Manners and expectations at the table can also differ.

  • In Asian and Russian cultures, it’s common not to talk during a meal because the food is the focus. Most conversation takes place after dinner. This isn’t the case in, for example, Japan, where colleagues often discuss work after hours and while socializing over a meal.
  • How much you eat can cause offense in some cultures. For example, your hosts in Russia, Greece, and Italy could be offended if you don’t eat enough.
  • Pay careful attention to how you use your chopsticks in Asian countries. Never use them in a gesture or for pointing, and never stick them upright in your rice bowl: this is an omen of death. Don’t use them to spear a piece of food or to tap a glass or bowl, either. And never cross your chopsticks; they should always lie side by side.
  • Try to avoid turning down vodka in Russia – when it’s offered, it’s a sign of trust and friendship. Vodka is served neat, and you should drink it all at once; Russians consider sipping vodka to be rude.
  • Muslims, Mormons, and Seventh Day Adventists avoid alcohol.
  • Hindus, India’s largest religious population, consider it unholy to eat beef. Most are also vegetarian. Muslims and Jews are forbidden to eat pork (and, in addition, Jews do not eat shellfish), and Roman Catholics may choose fish rather than red meat on Fridays.

Body Language and Gestures

  • In India, Africa, and the Middle East, people always use their right hand for greeting, touching, and eating. They consider the left hand unclean, so you should never use it for anything publicly.
  • Several cultures consider crossing your legs to be rude. For example, in the Middle East and South Africa, crossed legs often show the sole of the foot, a sign of an ill wish or a bad omen. In Japan, it’s considered rude to cross your legs in the presence of someone older or more respected than you.
  • Certain gestures considered acceptable in one country can be highly offensive in another. For example, a “thumbs up” gesture is seen as a sign of satisfaction in the West, but is highly offensive in some Middle Eastern countries.
  • In the United States, a handshake demonstrates that negotiations are finished, and that everyone is leaving on good terms. In the Middle East, a handshake is a sign that serious negotiations are now beginning.
  • In many cultures, pointing is impolite, so it’s usually best to avoid it entirely. If you must gesture toward something, use your entire hand.
Tip:
It can be challenging to know which gestures are taboo.A good rule of thumb is to avoid gestures until you’re sure that they’re acceptable. Watch how locals use body language, and follow their lead.

Clothing and Color

  • In the South Pacific, Asia, Thailand, and Russia, it’s courteous to remove your shoes before entering a home. This helps maintain cleanliness; but it’s also a sign that you’re leaving the outside world where it belongs.
  • Some cultures pay careful attention to clothing. For example, it’s important to be well dressed in Italy and the United Arab Emirates, and sloppy or casual clothing is considered impolite.
  • The color of your clothing could also cause offense. For example, never wear yellow in Malaysia; this color is reserved for royalty. In China, you’ll make a better impression by wearing red, which is considered lucky, than by wearing white, which is associated with death.

Personal Space

Personal space is the distance that you keep between yourself and another person. It varies widely between cultures.

  • In the United States, many people prefer to keep one to two meters’ space between friends and family members, and up to three meters between strangers and business associates. These preferences are similar in the United Kingdom, Norway, Germany, and other European countries.
  • The personal space requirements of Saudi Arabians are much lower: they often stand very close to one another, even those they don’t know well.
  • Chinese people and people from other Asian cultures are also typically used to less personal space than Westerners.

It’s important to understand the personal space requirements of a different culture, so that you’re not perceived as rude (by standing too far away) or pushy (by standing too close).

Personal space also includes touching. In Mediterranean and South American cultures, touching is an important part of conversation and connecting. If you don’t touch others, you’ll be considered cold. However, in Eastern countries, touching is often considered taboo, and you’ll offend your colleagues if you even pat them on the back or touch their arm.

Key Points

Cross-cultural awareness is an essential skill, regardless of whether you’re working overseas, leading a cross-cultural or virtual team, or dealing with a global customer base. Learn about the culture of the country where you’re doing business to avoid cultural mistakes, and to demonstrate respect and understanding.

Research key differences in decision making, relationships, dress, food, dining, and social etiquette before working with or traveling to a different culture. Your hosts will notice your efforts, and appreciate that you took the time to learn about their culture.

Via http://www.mindtools.com
Image source

Monday quote

In real world, the smarterst people are people who make mistakes and learn.

In school, the smartest people don’t make mistakes.

Robert Kiyosaki

P.S. “If you’re not embarrassed by work you did years ago, you probably haven’t evolved or developed much.”

I Won’t Hire People Who Use Poor Grammar. Here’s Why.

A small part of my job is to edit, proof-read, correct, …

The major part is to ensure all the departments are conveying the right message and keep a common house style for all communications. Yet some of the complacent co-workers insist that this means that we (PR&Communications Unit) are just a rabble of plain mortals whose sole ability in life is to put commas here and there.

Dear fellows:

“It’s easier to teach a poet how to read a balance sheet than it is to teach an accountant how to write.”
– Henry R. Luce (1898-1967)

Here’s one for you, sloppy co-worker. It matters. Got the chip on my shoulder now.  Try me. 😉

Via Harvard Business Review

If you think an apostrophe was one of the 12 disciples of Jesus, you will never work for me. If you think a semicolon is a regular colon with an identity crisis, I will not hire you. If you scatter commas into a sentence with all the discrimination of a shotgun, you might make it to the foyer before we politely escort you from the building.

Some might call my approach to grammar extreme, but I prefer Lynne Truss’s more cuddly phraseology: I am a grammar “stickler.” And, like Truss — author of Eats, Shoots & Leaves — I have a “zero tolerance approach” to grammar mistakes that make people look stupid.

Now, Truss and I disagree on what it means to have “zero tolerance.” She thinks that people who mix up their itses “deserve to be struck by lightning, hacked up on the spot and buried in an unmarked grave,” while I just think they deserve to be passed over for a job — even if they are otherwise qualified for the position.

Everyone who applies for a position at either of my companies, iFixit or Dozuki, takes a mandatory grammar test. Extenuating circumstances aside (dyslexia, English language learners, etc.), if job hopefuls can’t distinguish between “to” and “too,” their applications go into the bin.

Of course, we write for a living. iFixit.com is the world’s largest online repair manual, and Dozuki helps companies write their own technical documentation, like paperless work instructions and step-by-step user manuals. So, it makes sense that we’ve made a preemptive strike against groan-worthy grammar errors.

But grammar is relevant for all companies. Yes, language is constantly changing, but that doesn’t make grammar unimportant. Good grammar is credibility, especially on the internet. In blog posts, on Facebook statuses, in e-mails, and on company websites, your words are all you have. They are a projection of you in your physical absence. And, for better or worse, people judge you if you can’t tell the difference between their, there, and they’re.

Good grammar makes good business sense — and not just when it comes to hiring writers. Writing isn’t in the official job description of most people in our office. Still, we give our grammar test to everybody, including our salespeople, our operations staff, and our programmers.

On the face of it, my zero tolerance approach to grammar errors might seem a little unfair. After all, grammar has nothing to do with job performance, or creativity, or intelligence, right?

Wrong. If it takes someone more than 20 years to notice how to properly use “it’s,” then that’s not a learning curve I’m comfortable with. So, even in this hyper-competitive market, I will pass on a great programmer who cannot write.

Grammar signifies more than just a person’s ability to remember high school English. I’ve found that people who make fewer mistakes on a grammar test also make fewer mistakes when they are doing something completely unrelated to writing — like stocking shelves or labeling parts.

In the same vein, programmers who pay attention to how they construct written language also tend to pay a lot more attention to how they code. You see, at its core, code is prose. Great programmers are more than just code monkeys; according to Stanford programming legend Donald Knuth they are “essayists who work with traditional aesthetic and literary forms.” The point: programming should be easily understood by real human beings — not just computers.

And just like good writing and good grammar, when it comes to programming, the devil’s in the details. In fact, when it comes to my whole business, details are everything.

I hire people who care about those details. Applicants who don’t think writing is important are likely to think lots of other (important) things also aren’t important. And I guarantee that even if other companies aren’t issuing grammar tests, they pay attention to sloppy mistakes on résumés. After all, sloppy is as sloppy does.

That’s why I grammar test people who walk in the door looking for a job. Grammar is my litmus test. All applicants say they’re detail-oriented; I just make my employees prove it.

Kyle Wiens

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