User Rating: 0 / 5

Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive

Company names

It frequently amuses, then angers, then saddens me that companies are willing to throw money at TV ads but then neglect to bother to pay a decent translator. Forking out for a reliable person to help make sure that the company image is right would cost (well, not very much) compared to a TV ad...

Sometimes this relates to the name of a company. Some examples that spring straight to mind are MOLESTA, which sounds like 'molester'. I wouldn't choose to name my company after someone who assaults others sexually and I'm guessing you agree. #youtoo?

Screenshot from Oxford Dictionaries online: OED definition

When I first arrived in Lithuania, there was a beer called KOFF. This sounds like 'cough'. Not something I would like to put in a red can and then drink. I think I'll pass. It might have been Finnish, but I don't think it was a great success.

Maybe it demonstrates an underlying immaturity on my part, but I love finding translation fails in menus. So here are a couple. The company is a well-known pizza chain and part of a larger restaurant group. The name of the company has some unfortunate connotations which I might not have thought of until I saw their menu. Pick the meaning you like best: fools, boobs, or cocaine.


Not the #taikliausias decision for a company name (in my humble opinion). I'm currently half watching the basketball on TV and during every ad break, there is an ad for this company. So I don't mind pointing out how I think this company could have done better. And I am fully aware that my Lithuanian language skills are hopeless considering how long I've lived here. However, I will not let this stop me from sharing the joy of this menu with you...

So which sin would you choose?

I think this one is even better.

This is brilliant. Choose your garnish - great idea; customer choice is pretty much always a good thing. Pick your own garnish - even better. I have in mind some fresh herbs growing in the restaurant and you can pick what you want. Garnish picked up by customer (OK, by 'the customer', but we'll ignore that for now) - this sounds as if the garnish has been on the floor and you must pick it up from the kitchen/restaurant floor. Fantastic. Sounds lovely.

So what have we discovered?
Company names can sound funny in another language.
Choose, pick, and pick up are not the same. There are multiple meanings of the word 'pick'. Here are the ones that I associated with this image:

Choose something - make a selection from the available alternatives
Pick something - make a selection from the available options
Pick a flower, pick a herb, pick vegetables - remove them from their stem/the ground/where it is growing
Pick up - collect something that has fallen onto the floor or left elsewhere

It's not so easy to explain, which is why everyone needs a good dictionary. The examples here have been taken from

The last one is one that Veryga should be proud of, because burgers are not the healthiest. The powers that be seem to like banning things so should approve of this.

Have you found any gems on menus? If so, please share them!

As well as teaching, I am quite happy to advise your company on what you menu may sound like to foreign ears. Sometimes for a modest sum, and often in return for a burger or Chicken Kiev (just as long as I get to pick my own fresh garnish)!
powered by social2s

User Rating: 0 / 5

Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive
ET BlogI have decided to blog once in a while about topics inspired by conversations with my students. So here goes...

RP and Standard English. These two are not the same thing.
At a party. "My wife will be down shortly. She is just practicing a posher accent"

RP means Received Pronunciation. These extracts have been taken from the excellent British Library website.
RP is a young accent in linguistic terms. It was not around, for example, when Dr Johnson wrote A Dictionary of the English Language in 1757. He chose not to include pronunciation suggestions as he felt there was little agreement even within educated society regarding ‘recommended’ forms. The phrase Received Pronunciation was coined in 1869 by the linguist, A J Ellis, but it only became a widely used term used to describe the accent of the social elite after the phonetician, Daniel Jones, adopted it for the second edition of the English Pronouncing Dictionary (1924). (British Library)
"All RP speakers speak Standard English. In other words, they avoid non-standard grammatical constructions and localised vocabulary characteristic of regional dialects. RP is also regionally non-specific, that is it does not contain any clues about a speaker’s geographic background. But it does reveal a great deal about their social and/or educational background."
RP was taught at public schools (private fee-paying boarding schools, such as Eton and Harrow), and OxBridge (Oxford and Cambridge Universities); therefore, it became associated with 'The Establishment' - those in power. If you wanted to get on in life, you needed to speak with an RP accent. The BBC did not allow regional accents (apart from in one notable exception - story to follow in another post). Now this policy has changed, and you can currently hear many different accents on the BBC. BTW, what frequency is the BBC WorldService on the radio in Vilnius?

So all RP speakers speak Standard English, but this is not necessarily true the other way round. I speak Standard English but not with an RP accent. I can switch between various forms of English. I could feign that I speak RP for about half an hour before I would let it slip that really I am a Northerner! 

So I speak with a modified regional accent that would indicate to a native Brit that I am from the North of England. Unlike my mother, who is a Southerner (she can't help it!), I pronounce the 'a' in 'castle' in the same way as I would pronounce the word 'cat'. For my mum, it's 'ca(r)stle' - a longer vowel /a:/. This is just one example of a deviance from RP. I am happy that the way I speak is part of my identity.

Most educated people can happily switch between Standard forms of English (at work) and then revert to their less formal choice of words with their family and friends. In my classroom, I use and teach Standard forms of the language. However, on my private Facebook wall, I wish to express myself and not limit my identity; language serves as a means to express myself, and yes - for me, this means through non-Standard forms (or playing with language).

If I wrote an essay for an exam, or applied for a job, of course, I would have to use Standard English to be taken seriously.
Nowadays, I would argue that to be taken seriously, you are better off not speaking pure Conservative RP. There are numerous examples of how people in power have modified their accent to be more acceptable or fit in with the local electorate. Even The Queen has changed her voiceChange is natural (cue a debate about Lithuanian and her guardians...). Listen to the Queen's first Christmas Speech from 1957. She sounds rather amusing in places as her speech sounds dated. It is possible to track how her accent as changed as her Christmas Speech is broadcast every year at 3pm on Christmas Day.

Indeed many commentators even suggest that younger RP speakers often go to great lengths to disguise their middle-class accent by incorporating regional features into their speech.

You should be familiar with RP in order to read the pronunciation supplied in any good dictionary.

"As well as being a living accent, RP is also a theoretical linguistic concept. It is the accent on which phonemic transcriptions in dictionaries are based". (British Library)

This is not the only way the word will be pronounced, however. Part of my job as a teacher is to show you that most people you meet in the real world will not speak RP and may not even use Standard English when you meet them. As listeners, you should be prepared for this. Sometimes RP can sound antiquated and ridiculous. Modified versions of it are easy to understand and serve as a good model. In my classroom, you will be exposed to Standard English spoken with a northern accent.

Hopefully, accent prejudice will die. For now, it is very much alive as we judge people as being "too posh" or "uneducated" the moment they open their mouths. Accents are also related to the class system, which we will have to save for another day!


The British Library website 

Professor Peter Trudgill estimated that only 3% of the population of GB speak RP. 

Jack Windsor Lewis criticising the 3'% figure.

David Robson on the Queen modifying her accent

Erica Buist on Riot Club and 'posh' speak 

Queen Elizabeth II back in 1957

Stan Carey on accents for the Macmillan Dictionary Blog

Cartoon by PUGH (Daily Mail) 

Listen to the BBC WorldService online or on your radio (remember those?!). The frequency in Vilnius is 99.5 FM.

If you found anything interesting here, please spread the word by liking or sharing this article on social media. I'd really appreciate it.
powered by social2s

Books by Tim Shipman

If you are interested in politics, Britain, Brexit, and modern history, you might appreciate these books. They just happen to have been written by my brother! These are links to the Kindle version available on Amazon.