Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The butchering of the English language

Norglish - How Norwegian companies are butchering the English language
A recent survey conducted by EF (Education First) ranking proficiency in spoken English among non-native English speakers found that Norwegians are currently ranked second in the world, only outdone by their pesky next-door neighbours the Swedes. I’m sure there are many skilled multi-linguists in Norway, who are fluent in English and a number of other languages, and who are capable of conversing and writing in these languages at the highest level. But this doesn’t change the fact that most Norwegians find it difficult to communicate in a foreign language, and that is what we are going to focus on here.

In a world that gradually keeps getting smaller due to modern technology, free trade and cheap intercontinental flights, a vast ocean of opportunities has presented itself to Norwegian companies, and it is one that they have wholeheartedly embraced. It goes without saying that a business has to promote itself and especially one that is looking to expand into new markets overseas, in which case it has to promote itself in a language that is widely spoken, a lingua franca, and in the world of international commerce that language happens to be English. This means that Norwegian companies have to use a language that they don’t necessarily have an intimate knowledge of, and this is where things start to get a little bit tricky.

Ask any Norwegian about their English skills and they will without the slightest hint of doubt inform you that they are as close to fluent as humanly possible. They will also try to convince you that they are more than capable of traversing the treacherous continent that is the English language. Sadly overconfidence does not always correlate with competence, and the contrail that the overconfident often leave behind is replete with glaring errors and hilarious mistakes that normally elicit a good laugh on his/her behalf.

Most people are probably familiar with the portmanteau ‘Chinglish’ (the Chinese version of English). They are probably less familiar with the term ‘Norglish’(The Norwegian version of English). Hence I have decided to include some examples below in order to give people a better understanding of this peculiar Norwegian phenomenon. So sit back and enjoy, and try not to have a laughter induced heart attack when going over these literary gems found on various websites belonging to some of Norway’s most distinguished businesses. Sadly, they are blissfully unaware that they have butchered the English language beyond the pale and turned it into a frankensteinish monstrosity that should never have seen the light of day.

Here’s the top ten list, enjoy!!

Number 10

A mountain resort in Oppland

Ever heard of the Swedish chef from the Muppet Show? Well, he has finally figured out how to use the word processor on his laptop, and he has now started to publish material online. Here are a few of the things that he has to say;

 “Are you active in the mountains, indoors or out, at sea or in the air - Summer or winter, xxxxxxxxxx offer experiences for all.

With a season that lasts from the end of October to late April a season pass would be a profitable investment.

The ski resort is a popular place spending days in winter season.

In the ski centre you can spend days in our prepared ski slopes with ski lift and challenges.

Contact us for a price quote on booking of large groups and events.

Norway’s national cross country team and Project Ski2014 organized by Olympia top uses xxxxxxxxxx as one of their gathering places.”

Number 9
A distinguished hotel in Bergen

Not only has this hotel won numerous awards for its spectacular architecture, it has also been nominated on several occasions for the prestigious ‘Norglish Awards’, colloquially referred to as “The Norgies’. However, it has never been able to win this highly coveted prize.

"Classical, elegant architecture characterises both the hotels interior and exterior. The hotel has won awards for its excellent design, and in 1995 it became the first city hotel in the country to be proposed as a listed building.

New owners has since 2006 been carefully renovating the hotel. We welcome you to a good hotel exprience in one of Norway's most beautiful cities.
There's hardly a hotel in Bergen that's better accessible.

Number 8

A leading hotel in Bodø
Here’s an example of Norglish that actually makes the average machine translated text look ‘pretty darn’ good. Rumour has it that these particular excerpts were written on the hotel's guest computer by the most educated member of the staff during a strategy meeting in the library.

 The library is also equipped with a guest computer which is available for all our guests, free of use.

Nothing but the best is good enough when you stay with us, and here at xxxxxx we aspire to give our best to accompany your needs.

Our close collaboration with the Bodø Culture House gives us the possibility to offer you package prizes on hotel and show tickets. “

They also have great deals for sports fans.

“If there is availability we also offer our conference facilities to your disposal if needed for strategy meetings beforehand of a game. We can also offer nutritious and tasty game food, either served at the hotel or at a chosen venue.”

Number 7

Another prominent hotel in Bodø;

Think our written English is bad? Just wait until you hear our spoken English!

“The hotel offers a colourful and modern environment for post-war architecture and details from the rich history. Among the many known guests who have stayed here is Knut Hamsun, who wrote the book Segelfoss from a hotel room in 1915.

We have long term environmental goals for both humans and our surroundings. This is why all our hotels have environmental certifications, both the nordic standard "the Swan" and the international ISO environmental standard ISO 14001. In addition we encourace all our guests to choose a healthy lifestyle and inform of our offers in the reception.

Number 6

A mountain resort in Geilo;

So deliciously written that it almost makes you want to print this page and eat it, especially in the wintertime. Expect to pay top-notch prices, that could go up in the blink of an eye, at this exquisite establishment.

“We warmly welcome you to our xxxxxx Spa. Here, you will enter a new world, where calm and pleasure are the first things you encounter. In our smart reception area and Shiseido perfumery, there will always be someone ready to fulfil your requests

Our background as a center for health and well-being holds us accountable. Because of it, we can only allow our Spa facility to be absolute top-notch.

A delicious three course menu is usually what the dinner consists of in the winter. During the winter weekends we have a seafood buffet every Friday and on Saturdays we offer a four course menu.

We reserve the right to adjust our rates should VAT/ Tax be imposed according to Norwegian law.”

Number 5
A mountain resort near Rjukan.

A perfect example of Norglish Confucianism, which could quite possibly be attributed to the magic mushrooms that grow in the hills around the hotel;

“Our goal: to be the first resort with alpine skiing, every season
Our wish is to make your stay at xxxxxxxx a great experience, whether you choose summer, autumn, winter or spring. If you enjoy the sound of quietness or choose all the daily activities indoor or outdoor.

Fresh air, real food and good logistics. You can also bring your company to xxxxxxxxx for a new and inspiring experience. We offer meeting- & conference rooms for up to 200 persons. In addition we can also arrange out door activities for your group.”

Number 4

A luxurious hotel in Trondheim;
This text was apparently written by an employee who was given a B minus on an English assignment in high school back in 1989, highlighting the importance of always giving accurate and concise directions;

“The xxxxxxxx is centrally located in Trondheim only a few steps away from Trondheim’s shopping street Nordre and is very easy to find. We have limited parking available in our garage and public parking close by. A short walk from the xxxxxxxx you will find the local busses and the Train Station. The Airport Bus that takes you to Trondheim Airport Værnes in 40 minutes stops very close to the hotel when leaving for the airport and within walking distance as you arrive.

Norwegian and foreign artists have been characterized in their own rooms in the "Artist Street" in the 3rd floor in xxxxxxxxx. The art gives the room a unique character and provides an additional experience to your stay. In addition to the Artist rooms the xxxxxxxx features a large art collection throughout its corridors and public spaces.

Number 3

A hotel in Moss.

The author of this saucy text has apparently also written several articles for the Norwegian version of Playboy Magazine. He also works part time as a sales rep for a pool equipment company, and he is frequently spotted working out in the gym with new and exciting devices;

Try our new outdoor pool, where up to 8 people can have a relaxing hot Jacuzzi. Book in some time before dinner, so you can enjoy an extended aperitif while you bathe. We also provide a high quality sauna, for an extra hot and sweaty experience, you can ask the receptionist to turn up the temperature in the sauna.

For those who want to exercise, we recommend trying our golf simulator with over 70 tracks. Usage is free for our residents. We also have a small gym with new and varied devices. Outdoors we also have a huge chess game.

Number 2
A hotel in Ålesund

The individual who wrote this text is so watchful and service oriented that he actually took it upon himself to write this text without even being asked to do so by the owners of the hotel. That’s what I call eager to please!;

Service that cares : xxxxxxxx offers a very different experience from chain hotels. We believe true hospitality can never be reduced to a recipe. Just as every room has been individually created, so our service is tailored for each guest. With only 47 rooms, our hotel is intimate, enabling our watchful staff to take extra good care of every single visitor. You may be surprised to find fulfilled a wish or need you haven’t even expressed.

Xxxxxxxx is called an international boutique hotel, and that’s true enough. But most important are the things you don’t see. For instance, we insisted on the luxury mattresses that we might buy as gifts to ourselves.”

Number 1
A Norwegian hotel association.

If Norglish was a subject taught at University then surely the person responsible for this poetic tongue twister would be bestowed with an honorary degree. He or she obviously wanted to give it that refined and sophisticated appearance that looks so impressive when done properly. Truly a Norglish literary gem!;

“xxxxxxxxxxxxx - historic hotels & restaurants - is a unique membership organisation containing many of Norway’s most charming hotels and restaurants. The group consists of 47 hotels and 16 restaurants which are members of the group.

A very definite perception of the responsibilities of the proprietor is required to qualify, with the relating of history forming the setting for the guests’ own overnight stay and gastronomic experience.

Our aim is to use the past as a backdrop for our guests, to enable them to create their own history based on experiences. It is our hope that these narrations may continue to live in the memories of our guests long after their return home.”

Leave the hustle and bustle of daily life and enjoy a few days with the person of your choice inNorway. We can offer you peace and quiet, lovely surroundings and good food and wine. We prepare the setting in which romance can blossom.”