Some (non-native) customers’ reactions to English expressions (some stolen anonymously from a list):
Don’t like façade – ‘doesn’t sound very English’ – prefer facade.
Don’t like well (for drawing water from) – well is the adverb from good.
A German reviser forbids an English translator to use the word erection (of an installation) in English, because the word has other meanings in German.
(That one reminds me of being told not to translate Glaubhaftmachung using prima facie evidence because prima facie has a different meaning in legal German). Glaubhaftmachung is the relatively generous minimum evidence you need to get an interim injunction rather than a final decision.
Don’t translate Klausenburg as Cluj this time – the American official said it doesn’t exist.
A few more from an old entry (August 2004).
Client says, ‘The translation was first-class. But just one thing – why did you write express agreement and not expressive agreement?’
Author’s English expert (a native German, Leipzig): ‘I have the impression the translator has researched the terminology very well, but her grammar is certainly not that of a native speaker, as I can tell from my university study of English.’ Translator spends several hours refuting grammar ‘errors’ that never were errors except to a non-native speaker (can anyone suggest a better tactic?). A couple of the errors were content errors though, but only 1%. The author, a clergyman: ‘This has been a helpful exercise, as the translation is now improved’.
Author’s quote: ‘The translator’s English is unreliable. In English, there are never commas before relative sentences (sic), nor before but or that.’The painting is said to date from’ should be ‘The painting allegedly dates from’. ‘It was known as the chapter-house’ should be ‘the so-called chapter-house’.
LATER NOTE: Forgot this one:
German client objects at great length to translating Lebensziel as ‘goal in life’, because ‘as we know,
goal is used in English in the context of football and football only’.