Man, I saw the most depressing ad, today... (But not for the reasons you'd think.)


Prometheus

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I was watching a programme on television this evening, and during one of the ad-breaks an advertisment was shown for some sort of sports drink ("Powerade", I believe it was).


Surely not a depressing advert, you'd think? Well, in terms of its content, no, but in terms of the small-print at the bottom of the screen, yes. At the bottom of the screen, the text proclaimed that it also contains "water, taste, and minerals".


TASTE?! A note to advertisers everywhere: The correct word to use for this is "flavouring" - a word that I've known and used since I was little more than a toddler. What excuse is there for using "taste" instead, on an advertisement for a product aimed at adults?!


I despair at things like this, I really do...
 
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Christoph.Krn

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I have not seen this ad, yet I question that it is the most depressing advertisement ever. Many food companies try to make their product's ingredients sound all "friendly" when actually some of them aren't (let alone all those questionable substances that aren't even necessarily listed at all, such as those coming from 'obscure' sources, like Phtalates from plastic bottles, or substances that producers of ingredients may add).


Much more depressing is Tabasco. Its made of vinegar, red pepper, and salt, and that's exactly what it says on the label.


--


To all German people here I recommend the episode of scobel called "Essen - getäuscht und abgespeist?" (its website: http://www.3sat.de/page/?source=/scobel/160763/index.html).
 
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Prometheus

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I have not seen this ad, yet I question that it is the most depressing advertisement ever.
Like I said, it's not the ad itself, but rather the poor standards of literacy used therein.


It's in much the same vein as an ad that aired here last year for babies' nappies (diapers to the folks in North America :p ), which I remember solely because it featured a kid in pilot gear standing in front of large fan, followed by the giant, screen-filling text, "DO NOT ATTEMPT THIS AT HOME THIS BABY IS A TRAINED PROFFESIONAL". The lack of punctuation combined with a giant glaring misspelling of a very simple word completely ruined their joke. :p


And don't even get me started on supermarkets that put signs up about what's on what "isle"... Ugh.
 
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slaeshjag

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Hehe, I see it as at least something bad happening to English :)


My native language is seeing some absolutely horrifying anglification in my generation. In fact, I can barely make up a sentence without mixing in some English into it, and I'm far from alone. Yet I know nobody in real life who doesn't speak Swedish <.<
 

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It's in much the same vein as an ad that aired here last year for babies' nappies (diapers to the folks in North America :p ), which I remember solely because it featured a kid in pilot gear standing in front of large fan, followed by the giant, screen-filling text, "DO NOT ATTEMPT THIS AT HOME THIS BABY IS A TRAINED PROFFESIONAL". The lack of punctuation combined with a giant glaring misspelling of a very simple word completely ruined their joke. :p

That reminds me of what Super Metroid tells you when you beat (or are beaten by) Ridley in the starbase:

SELF DESTRUCT SEQUENCE ACTIVATED EVACUATE COLONY IMMEDIATELY

No misspellings, but the same bad (lack of) punctuation. Keep in mind that Super Metroid isn't new. :p
 

Christoph.Krn

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It's in much the same vein as an ad that aired here last year for babies' nappies (diapers to the folks in North America :p ), which I remember solely because it featured a kid in pilot gear standing in front of large fan, followed by the giant, screen-filling text, "DO NOT ATTEMPT THIS AT HOME THIS BABY IS A TRAINED PROFFESIONAL".
Ah, I see, you are looking at this in the context of language deterioration -- one of the other big things that makes companies change their packaging
 

Prometheus

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It's in much the same vein as an ad that aired here last year for babies' nappies (diapers to the folks in North America :p ), which I remember solely because it featured a kid in pilot gear standing in front of large fan, followed by the giant, screen-filling text, "DO NOT ATTEMPT THIS AT HOME THIS BABY IS A TRAINED PROFFESIONAL".
Ah, I see, you are looking at this in the context of language deterioration -- one of the other big things that makes companies change their packaging
Yep, I am indeed.


I also feel a need to mention the UK's leading brand of liquid soap, who plasters their bottles with the phrase "Protecting Anti-Bacterial Handwash". It always makes me ask "From what?".

But does this drink have Electro-lytes?
Actually, yes... That was exactly why the text said that it also contains "water, taste, and minerals"... And yes, Brawndo is exactly what I thought of, which is why it's so depressing - it's really happening. :(
 
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DaMummy

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maybe youre just being trolled and dont realize it. at least it doesnt contain "odor-fighting atomic robots that shoot lasers at your stench monsters and replaces them with fresh, clean, masculine scent elves."
 

Tom`

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I was watching a programme on television this evening, and during one of the ad-breaks an advertisment was shown for some sort of sports drink ("Powerade", I believe it was).


Surely not a depressing advert, you'd think? Well, in terms of its content, no, but in terms of the small-print at the bottom of the screen, yes. At the bottom of the screen, the text proclaimed that it also contains "water, taste, and minerals".

It's not even logical - 'taste' is a property, not an ingredient. It's like saying "this Powerade contains red."


I suppose it's the same issue as the massive increase in poorly-copyedited newspaper articles (not only is the reporting a shoddy excuse for journalism, they can't even get the spelling and grammar right). Which is to say, the increasing lack of money (or willingness) to pay copyeditors/proofreaders (or so I've heard).

Much more depressing is Tabasco. Its made of vinegar, red pepper, and salt, and that's exactly what it says on the label.

Why is that depressing? It's good stuff and it doesn't have any adulterants.
 
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iprice

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the text proclaimed that it also contains "water, taste, and minerals".
Maybe they didn't use the word "flavouring", as generally that indicates that artificial ingredients/flavourings are used to make the "flavour"? But they could have stated that it contains "real fruit juices" or "natural flavourings" instead (if it does). Sounds like it's totally artificial from their description.
 
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diligentcircle

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Ahem... since no one seemed to give it any notice, again I must say that this text was in Super Metroid, which was released nearly two decades ago:

SELF DESTRUCT SEQUENCE ACTIVATED EVACUATE COLONY IMMEDIATELY

And, of course, the original Ninja Gaiden had this line:

I want to know,


why you killed Smith?

I see no reason to believe that bad English is a new trend, or that it's more common today than it was before.


Also, the Tabasco thing... I don't get it either. I suppose "red pepper" is a tad ambiguous (but nowhere near as much as "natural flavors"), and salt is technically ambiguous (though I don't see why e.g. road salt would be put in food), but this is incredibly picky. I'd even call it snobbish, and that's a lot coming from me.
 

WizardStan

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I see no reason to believe that bad English is a new trend, or that it's more common today than it was before.
You're comparing video games translated from Japanese from a time when the major group of people that really cared about video games were pre-teen boys against advertisements written first in their native language intended for a country-wide audience. "People used to crash their horse and buggy 2 centuries ago, I don't see the big deal about planes falling out of the sky" if you will. :p
 

diligentcircle

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You're comparing video games translated from Japanese from a time when the major group of people that really cared about video games were pre-teen boys against advertisements written first in their native language intended for a country-wide audience.

There is no reason translation from Japanese would render itself grammatically incorrect in those ways. Japanese has punctuation and the same type of mistake made in Super Metroid would be a mistake in Japanese as well. The one from Ninja Gaiden could sort of be dismissed as Engrish if you just read it at face value (due to the way questions in Japanese are phrased), but the original, rough translations (which were made by the Japanese writers) were edited by native English speakers before they were put into Ninja Gaiden.


These were not plain Engrish (though Engrish was involved in Ninja Gaiden), and they were not lack of attention. These were just a couple mistakes that people made. The same goes for these commercials. I'm making a point here: you can't judge an entire generation by cherry-picking a couple cases of bad English that you saw recently. People always have made mistakes and always will make mistakes.

"People used to crash their horse and buggy 2 centuries ago, I don't see the big deal about planes falling out of the sky" if you will. :p

That's a terrible comparison. I don't care what the audience is; any contributor to a larger work that has any pride whatsoever is going to try his/her best (or something close to that), especially with a game that has as much craft in it as Super Metroid. Seriously, how is making a small mistake in a stupid diaper commercial that no one cares about worse (especially on the scale of plane crash vs. buggy crash) than making a very similar small mistake in one of the greatest games of all time, which clearly has a lot of hard work behind it?
 
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WizardStan

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There is no reason translation from Japanese would render itself grammatically incorrect in those ways.
Because mistakes happen in translations all the time, especially if the translators are native speakers of the original and only speak the destination language as secondary. The mistake doesn't have to have been there originally to have been typoed in the translation, or questionably translated by someone that may not have been thinking about it.

Seriously, how is making a small mistake in a stupid diaper commercial that no one cares about worse (especially on the scale of plane crash vs. buggy crash) than making a very similar small mistake in one of the greatest games of all time, which clearly has a lot of hard work behind it?
It is one of the greatest games of all time to you, and right now you notice it. Did you notice it 20 years ago? Do you think the average person your age 20 years ago would have noticed?

I'm making a point here: you can't judge an entire generation by cherry-picking a couple cases of bad English that you saw recently. People always have made mistakes and always will make mistakes.
That's a reasonable point, but the audience they're trying to reach with their diaper commercial is much, much larger and supposedly much more learned than the one targeted for a "silly video game for kids". I remember a lot of poor translations from the 80s. The occurrences of such mistakes in video games is definitely on the decline because the audience is becoming more mature and aware of the lack of polish that a poor translation makes: they're much more carefully edited today than they were 20 years ago. By contrast, the kinds of real world mistakes Prometheus is talking about are on the increase: still a very small percentage, but noticeably more now than there were 10 years ago: that's the sadness, not that mistakes happen but that they are happening more frequently now in general situations to wide audiences than they used to.
 

Christoph.Krn

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Much more depressing is Tabasco. Its made of vinegar, red pepper, and salt, and that's exactly what it says on the label.

Why is that depressing? It's good stuff and it doesn't have any adulterants.
Exactly. The producer knows which ingredients are inside, states them on the label, and it can be easily understood. Look at how often you will find that nowadays.

[...] you can't judge an entire generation by cherry-picking a couple cases of bad English that you saw recently. People always have made mistakes and always will make mistakes.
I see no reason to believe that bad English is a new trend, or that it's more common today than it was before.
At least in Germany, language deterioration has become very prevalent, too. I have never heard that this would have been the case several decades ago (though I have not tried to falsify this assumption, either).

I also feel a need to mention the UK's leading brand of liquid soap, who plasters their bottles with the phrase "Protecting Anti-Bacterial Handwash". It always makes me ask "From what?".
"Würfelzucker" is the German word for cubed sugar. Several of the German companies selling Würfelzucker currently have a packaging that looks similar to this: "Würfel Zucker" (German), because for some years now marketing people in Germany have loved to split German words apart in order to emphasize certain parts of them. The way the German language is, these packages now no longer say that they contain "cube sugar", but actually command the buyer (funnily enough typically in giant letters) to "Throw the sugar like it's dice".
 

diligentcircle

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It is one of the greatest games of all time to you, and right now you notice it. Did you notice it 20 years ago? Do you think the average person your age 20 years ago would have noticed?

I didn't notice it 20 years ago. Kind of something you can't do when you haven't been born yet. ;)

By contrast, the kinds of real world mistakes Prometheus is talking about are on the increase: still a very small percentage, but noticeably more now than there were 10 years ago: that's the sadness, not that mistakes happen but that they are happening more frequently now in general situations to wide audiences than they used to.

So, you're telling me you've looked at all of these "general situations" in English for the past few decades or so and counted every mistake made, then came up with a ratio comparing the number of mistakes to the number of situations each year (or some other period of time)? Sounds ludicrous to me. If you've done that, then I'd love to see the statistics, but I highly suspect you have not (since it's a ridiculous amount of work), in which case the assertion that more mistakes are made today than, say, 20 years ago is silly.
 
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Tom`

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I see no reason to believe that bad English is a new trend, or that it's more common today than it was before.

Definitely bad translation is not new.


I'm not sure that bad English is increasing either - instances of bad grammar/spelling seem to be increasing, but we are also consuming more written material than ever (at the very least, more than in the last several decades). I can't find my original source for this (read an article about it months ago), but this Pew survey on e-books is suggestive.


More commentary on language.

Also, the Tabasco thing... I don't get it either. I suppose "red pepper" is a tad ambiguous (but nowhere near as much as "natural flavors"), and salt is technically ambiguous (though I don't see why e.g. road salt would be put in food), but this is incredibly picky. I'd even call it snobbish, and that's a lot coming from me.

The peppers used are actually Tabasco peppers.
 
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