HOW TO AVOID EMBARRASSING MISTAKES IN ENGLISH
In English, the Norwegian term ‘minibank’ does not translate to ‘minibank’. And you cannot simply translate ‘konstituert leder’ into ‘constituted leader’. NHH Norwegian School of Economics’ new, freely available term base can help avoid the most embarrassing mistakes.
The use of Norwegian technical terminology has long been a topic of public debate in Norway. The Norwegian Language Council encourages us to use Norwegian when we can and English when we must.
But what about the quality of English terms in cases where Norwegian companies choose to use English? English language skills may need to improve in businesses in Norway.
NHH term base
Check out the new term base here
Similar resources in other Nordic countries:
- Finland: Vetenskapstermbanken
- Denmark: Sproget.dk
- Iceland: publications/dictionary
On the premises of a Norwegian financial institution, we found a sign saying ‘broker hall’ – a direct translation of the Norwegian term ’meglerhall’. Unfortunately, the translation is incorrect, and the sign makes no sense to international visitors.
Incorrect use of English is amusing at best and, at worst, a potential legal problem. What do you think of the terms ‘constituted leader’, ‘the nettbank’ and ‘money laundry?’ They are all examples of incorrect translations of ‘konstituert leder’, ‘nettbank’ and ‘hvitvasking av penger’ that we have observed in Norwegian businesses.
Norwegian businesses are becoming increasingly international, and using the correct English terminology is vital to succeed. Specific fields, for example, finance, auditing or strategy, have their own expressions called technical terminology. How can we improve English technical terminology and ensure we come across professionally in international communication?
NHH Norwegian School of Economics’ new term base for economics and business can help businesses with English technical terminology, so they avoid putting their foot in it. It is a freely available and searchable resource that provides access to terminology in economics and business. In the term base, companies, media, students, researchers and others can find quality-assured translations of technical terminology.
So what are the correct translations of ‘minibank’, ‘meglerhall, ‘nettbank’, ‘konstituert leder’ and ‘hvitvasking av penger’?
To withdraw money, you go to an ATM (automated teller machine), not a ‘minibank’.
If a bank wishes to translate the term ‘meglerhall’ to English, they will find ‘trading floor’ in the new term base. The translation of ‘nettbank’ is ‘internet bank’ or ‘online bank’. And if you search for the translation of ‘konstituert leder’, you will find ‘interim manager’ and avoid embarrassing yourself.
If you are looking for the correct English term for ‘hvitvasking av penger’, you will find ‘money laundering, not ‘money laundry’.
The term base can also help increase the use of Norwegian technical terminology. It might be easy to resort to English terms, although equally good terms exist in Norwegian. Companies that would like to strengthen their use of Norwegian technical terminology can use the term base to find the equivalent Norwegian terms and make an effort to implement them in their corporate jargon.
That being said, not everyone will be able to write documents in correct English just by using this database. When important documents need to be translated, it may be a good idea to use experts.
NHH offers the Norwegian National Translator Accreditation Exam and grants candidates the right to practice as government authorised translators. A government authorised translator will ensure that documents are translated between Norwegian and English using the correct technical terminology.
Higher education institutions have a legal responsibility to maintain Norwegian technical terminology. NHH educates future economists and leaders. For this reason, the Department of Professional and Intercultural Communication has developed the new term base for terminology in economics and business.