Lost in translation

By now it’ll come as no surprise to you when I say that I love to read...but that I LOVE to write even more.

I enviously covet other people's skillful craftsmanship and manipulation of words, their effortless ability to dress lines of text with emotion or humour.  

Stumbling across a word I've never seen or used before excites me and I make a point of learning it's origin and proper use. Always trying to remember what I've learnt, though it’s not easy when your brain could be mistaken for a sieve.

Because almost everything I do at work involves writing I have plenty of opportunity to practice. To help me and all the people I write to I try to be disciplined, always striving to;

  • Be clear and concise
    (Note: obviously I drastically deviate from this when blog writing, for artistic purposes only)
  • Be human, it helps to imagine that I’m writing to a friend or even my mother
  • Avoid sarcasm at all costs. It just doesn’t work unless you explain it and, if you have to explain it, it also doesn’t work…

Because it is a passion of mine I also appreciate how hard it is to communicate clearly and so, occasionally, I am given the opportunity by our customers to pick up the pieces of people's poorly pondered prose.

This doesn’t astonish me. 

Well, actually, it may be more accurate to say that this usually doesn’t astonish me.

Admittedly, if something isn’t clear you can normally assign (at least partial) blame to the author. But, rarely, the sentiment lost in translation has actually been misplaced by the reader alone. I’ll explain.

Yesterday I was forwarded an ardent objection to the use of the word ‘our’ in the title of this website article, ‘A few simple tips for trouble-free boating on our canals and rivers’. The customer had interpreted it’s innocuous but also warm, open and friendly use in exactly the manner we had not intended. Instead choosing to believe that we were in fact asserting our absolute possession over every canal and river.

Still, despite my best efforts (I was clear, concise, friendly, human and not at all sarcastic) to explain that this was absolutely not our intention, he has replied today to tell me once again that we are wrong.

On this point, my friend, we may now just have to agree to disagree…

Last date edited: 12 June 2014

About this blog

Sarina Young

Sarina joined us in 2008 as our customer services co-ordinator. Among other things, she manages our national customer service team, complaints procedure and requests for information made to the Trust. She says that the most important thing to her is to be able to go home and feel as though she’s achieved something, however small that might be. Her job is hugely satisfying, widely varied, full of deadlines, immensely interesting, sometimes challenging and no day is ever the same, although some are surprisingly familiar!  

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