Wednesday, July 6, 2011

My ‘TVB Rant’ # 10: TVB's “infamously bad” English

I didn't think that I'd be doing another TVB rant so soon -- I guess they've really been annoying me lately....

Anyway, the topic of this particular rant is something that I've noticed for a long time already (and have complained about before) -- I just got "reminded" of it recently and so I felt like ranting about it.

I was flipping through a few TVB Weekly magazines the other day and again, something caught my eye (I always seem to find something wrong in those magazines). As they've been doing for a few months now, the magazine has a section where they feature some of the latest Weibo trends and include pictures as well as screenshots from certain TVB artists' (and non-TVB artists) Weibos, along with commentary.

Well, this particular spread was on Celebrity moms-to-be, so of course, actresses such as Ada Choi, Cindy Au, Eileen Yeow, etc. were mentioned (obviously I'm behind on my magazine reading, since all 3 ladies have had their babies already -- the magazine itself is from May). I didn't have a problem with the content in terms of the artists mentioned in the article. What I DID have a problem with though is the fact that whoever wrote that article for the magazine (and perhaps the Editor of the magazine) seriously needs a lesson in proper English!!!

In the section of the article that talked about Cindy Au and her Weibo conversations with her mom-to-be friends Ada and Eileen, there was a short paragraph of commentary by the writer of the article that accompanied a screenshot from Cindy's weibo -- in that 1 short paragraph commentary, Cindy's name (in English) was mentioned 3 times....BUT, instead of writing "Cindy", the article writer wrote "Candy" (since when did Cindy change her name to Candy??). Now, if this only happened 1 time and the rest of the paragraph had the correct name, then I would attribute it to a simple misspelling error -- but the fact that Cindy's name was mentioned 3 times in the same paragraph and ALL 3 TIMES it was spelled wrong -- that tells me that the person who wrote the article has no clue what they are doing. To add 'insult to injury', in the various screenshots that they included on that same page from Cindy's Weibo, the actress even wrote her name in English before writing her comments (her Weibo posts always start with her name "Cindy: ________" because she shares the account with her husband Roger Kwok and doesn't want people to be confused with who is posting) -- so tell me then, how could the writer of the article STILL get her name WRONG??? It's written RIGHT THERE in the picture -- couldn't they just "copy" it correctly from the picture? It makes absolutely NO SENSE to me!!!

As I mentioned earlier, this is NOT the first time that I've found language-related mistakes in stuff put out by TVB -- I've found various misspellings and "bad English" in other issues of their magazine several times before. But I guess I really shouldn't be surprised because the language thing seems to be a long-time, widespread issue at TVB. If you think that the above example I cited is bad, check out the English subtitles on the DVD versions of their TV series (believe me -- it's bad....I'm just glad I know Cantonese and don't need subtitles, or else I would be pulling my hair out seeing all the mistakes they make in the subtitles).

But to be honest, even the subtitle issue is a 'minor issue' in comparisons to the plot summaries / synopses that they include on the back cover of their DVD sets....I mean, if you are ever interested in seeing what HORRIBLE ENGLISH looks like, I recommend reading the English plot summaries on those DVD boxes -- not only are there varying degrees of misspellings and grammatical errors, the sentence structure is also completely wrong (to the point of the entire summary being incomprehensible). The English in those plot summaries is so poorly written that, if I were them, I would be ashamed to even release that stuff to the public!

Come on now -- if TVB is truly serious about expanding into the International market, they REALLY need to clean up their issues in the language area, especially if most of the international population they are trying to cater to is English-speaking! (Yea, and they can start with hiring some decent translators and writers who actually KNOW ENGLISH!!) So far, based on what I've seen, TVB's attempts into the international arena have been LAME and INSINCERE at best.....I mean, just look at the magazine example I cited above -- if they can't even do something as minor as copying down someone's English name correctly when it's right there staring them in the face (and I say "copying" because Cindy's name was already written by her in her Weibo post -- if the writer did not know English, just freakin' copy the name from her Weibo, for Heaven's sake!), what does that tell you about how they operate?

The way I see it, this language issue goes back to the 'attitude' issue that I've been complaining about them for years -- the 'smugness' and 'arrogance' with which the company's executives run operations and also the way that they are always trying to 'underestimate' the intelligence of the audience / general public. Why should they be bothered with quality and attention to detail when they are already reaping huge profits? Plus, in their minds, the audiences are 'too stupid' to pay attention to that stuff anyway (well, some die-hard fans who refuse to believe that TVB can do anything wrong probably fall into that category -- I obviously don't!!).

Whatever the case may be, I have some words of advice for TVB: Don’t think for a minute that people (like me) won’t notice the details – because we DO notice….all these seemingly ‘minor’ issues are starting to add up and I’m sure they will (eventually) turn into something bigger down the road. So yes TVB, CLEAN UP YOUR ACT (and do it quickly)!!

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