Saturday, September 6, 2008


On facebook, I saw a photo labeled as "[male cousin] with girlfriend!" Having been made aware that the cousin in question had been single for a long time, I was quite curious, so I decided to check out the 60-photo album. Apparently my cousin decided to go to a party in HK called "I.T XX" (20 yrs of I.T), and apparently a lot of the HK celebs were there. From the photos, the theme/caption was "is a season of celebration for twentieth birthday [sic]".

Is it just me, or does that read somewhat awkwardly? At first, knowing absolutely nothing about the event, I assumed that it was some sort of party for 20-yr olds. But that wouldn't make sense, since most of my HK cousins are well over 30 by now. (But from what I've read online, the organisation of the party was a rough equivalent to that expected from a 20-yr old. But the "1988/2008" tag was a clue, and so I assumed that it was a 20th anniversary

Anyway, from the other photos, I couldn't find any evidence of Chinese text, which suggests that the awkwardly phrased slogan was intended to refer to the company (I.T) anniversary. Sure, they could have been trying to be artistic with the birthday/anniversary thing, but there are still two places in the phrase that strike me as being particularly problematic.

1. "... of celebration for ..."
My first immediate instinct was to change it into a gerund: "is a season of celebrating for twentieth birthday"

2. "...for twentieth birthday"
Normally, the noun phrase that follows a preposition is complete with its determiner. For example:
(1) Around the time he was sick
(2) *Around time he was sick
So it should either be
(3) "...for a twentieth birthday," or
(4) "...for twentieth birthdays."
And even then, there are more standard phrases to express similar sentiments in the industry. "Celebrating 20 years of young fashion!" seems to work pretty well.

Another thing I don't get is the use of "season". Anniversaries for corporations and companies don't generally have seasons associated with them, unlike religious/cultural holidays (eg: winter for Christmas, Easter in spring, autumn for halloween and thanksgiving, etc.) So what season, exactly, are they trying to reference? (And especially in a place like HK, which is riight on the border of the Tropic of Cancer, are there really any seasons to speak of?) Moreover, it's usually at the 25-yr mark that they have the huge celebrations. Silver Anniversary and all that.

Normally I wouldn't care so much about the less-than-natural English that gets churned out in East Asia, but having been a British colony for a century (technically 99 years), you'd think they would have a better handle on the language, or at least have better trained translators on hand. Then again, if the organisation of the party was as terrible as people are making it out to be, it shouldn't be surprising that they wouldn't bother with a professional translator.

1 comment:

Georg said...

Bonjour Grimmy,

Had a look at the list on the right side of this blog.

"anime" comes most certainly from the French word "animation" or "animer". Then I suppose it was in the backpack of William the Conqueror and his crew who crossed to merry Olde England in 1066.

How about that one?