Communication / Wine

Distracted spell checker

1 June 2013

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I would have never imagined to find the words wine and proofreading in the same post… but this is what happens if you ask your professional distortion of chronic reader (please read translator) to have dinner with you.

In the kitchen the gas cookers have been turned off and it’s time to open the brand new bottle of wine that a friend took care of bringing us, as a first fruit of the season. After the meticulous ritual of opening and guessing if the course goes well with the wine chosen, my eyes are caught by the back label. Generally, it’s there you can find information on vintage, area of production, ageing, alcohol content, tasting notes. But this time I am in front of a typo able to trigger a short film, simultaneous to dinner, but without a happy ending. Here you are what the irreverent back label says: “pleasant hiney finish.” For obvious reasons I won’t mention the unlucky producer.

The Homer Simpson style cloud created by my lively imagination of translator shows me a genie of the lamp like woman coming out from the bottle and shaking her booty in front of me. Perhaps, it’s a fairly simple representation, but it clearly explains what could happen if the typo was literally translated by an absent-minded colleague or, worse than this, an automatic translator.

In spite of the obsessive care for marketing contents, it’s not at all uncommon to find this kind of typos in leaflets, web sites and promotional materials of any kind with the blessing of copywriters, editors and graphic designers. The noun hiney, of course, has nothing to do with wine (unless you’re planning a “romantic” night) and has replaced here the word honey, mostly preferred by wine tasters, enologists, sommeliers and journalists, and able to evocate the pleasant sensation of sweetness and smoothness lingering in your mouth. A tiny and innocent distraction for a spell checker, if you consider both terms are commonly used in English… but not for a good proofreader or editor or, as in my case, the final consumer.

Tight deadlines, text layouts to fit and the specific standards on labelling, to follow when exporting, are frustrating enough for any copywriter or editor in his/her right mind. On the other hand, it’s true that the only text of the back label to be often modified is the one mentioning tasting notes. It would be then desirable (and positive for the ROI of any brand) to pay special attention to typos and awkward grammar mistakes and to avoid all creativity efforts are focused on appearance only by simply bearing in mind these old-fashioned common sense rules:

  • first impression is king: care for details, at certain extent, should be put in practice, not only advertised;
  • spell checker is not our friend;
  • editors and proofreaders improve our texts. Any doubts on who’s who? Read this.
  • “postponed” reading is a good practice. You have two options: time distance (if deadline allows you to) that helps us overcome the paternity “syndrome” making us blind to any fault, even imaginary, of the text we have created or reading through a third person, instead, by asking a colleague to check the work for us;
  • never miss reading out (old method, always winning).

As a translator I also have this last advice:

  • always commit your marketing contents to mother-tongue professionals (not your secretary nor the bilingual friend, please… ), specialized in your expertise field and, possibly, good transcreators as well. The image of both your products and brand will be strengthened abroad.

What about you? Have you ever found such typos or awkward mistakes? I can’t wait hearing your comments.



Maria Elena Leta