Thursday, June 17, 2010

Speaky Engleesh ?

Let me start by saying that I admire any company who publishes a CSR report. I also admire companies who publish reports in English despite the fact that this is not their working language. As a linguist and polyglot myself, having lived and worked in at least 3 countries where I needed to talk, read  and write in a language other than my mother tongue, and still do today, I know how tough it is to ensure that you can say what you want to say properly and accurately in a foreign language. I have understand those who make mistakes in the English language, as I do, frequently, in other languages I work in. But when a Company produces a CSR report in English which is badly translated and full of errors, I wonder what went wrong.

I agree that substance over style should always guide us in our reading of CSR reports, and the  OTE Corporate Responsibility Report 2009 , recently published, is actually a very nice, comprehensive, well thought-through report, and this is what counts. Most. However, the English translation is very poor and makes it hard to read,  giving a slight impression of unprofessionalism. Here are just a few of the errors and oddities in their English language version. Can you spot them ?

Aware of society’s calls, OTE has always offered a helping hand towards those in need.   Page 1.

Utilisation of the convergence of technologies by creating commercial proposals and the development of the customer offer by adopting new systems and procedures. Page 12.

This is something we attend to address as CR is progressively integrated into OTE’s business planning, which should also help to foster necessary agility and cross-functional collaborations. Page 19. 

In order to ensure continuous and well-rounded information on CR developments, in 2009 OTE maintained participation in several national and international bodies as a member. Page 21.

Until today, OTE gave emphasis to the development of the necessary infrastructure, even in remoted areas, so that all citizens can have access to the new technologies and specifically broadband. Page 34. 

All the complaints were handled with customer service as a guide and the average of written complaints that was answered within 20 days, was 92% while the majority of the verbal complaints were solved within 2 days Specifically: Page 35.

At the same time we look for the design and development of products and services that enable our customers in reducing their environmental impacts. Page 56.

OTE remained a bastion for vulnerable groups into 2009, by offering support to Non Government Organisations working in that direction. Page 67.

The devastating earthquake in Haiti touched people worldwide, and the need for humanitarian aid to the victims, demanded from all people to become aware of this devastation and mobilise. Page 69.

I see the needing for a more thoroughly proofing reading that we should look for in the next time this company is reporting.Oops. Sorry. It's the Chunky Monkey talking.

elaine cohen is co-founder and co-CEO of Beyond Business, a leading social and environmental consulting and reporting firm. Visit our website at


Mike Nelson Pedde said...

Elaine: I've sent comment to several websites correcting their English translations (while assuring them that their English is much better than my _____).

I agree, though, that for someone to publish a report in a given language, someone should proofread the copy to ensure accuracy in spelling, grammar AND content. To do less looks unprofessional and lowers one's expectations of the document itself.


elaine said...

Mike, thank you for reading and thanks for your comment. As I write I just noticed another report published this week in English with a spelling or grammar error on almost every page. Such a shame. elaine

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