Tagged: Indo English

My yard is wide

😦 Of course I love my house. It has a yard. Actually it’s not a very wide yard.

flag-of-indonesia Here an Indonesian candidate is translating ‘luas’ (lit. ‘wide’).

In English, ‘wide’ is one of several dimensions (including ‘long’, ‘deep’, etc.), and doesn’t really communicate the idea of overall size.  If you tell me your yard is wide, I immediately want to know whether it is long. Then I might be able to decide whether it is big or small. For example, a yard might be 10m ‘wide’, but only 10cm ‘long’.

To communicate the idea of overall size – when speaking about the land next to or between buildings – it would be better to say:

🙂 Of course I love my house. It has a yard. Actually it’s not a very big yard.

More academic synonyms for ‘big’ might include ‘spacious’, ‘expansive’.

@eapguru

When ‘existence’ should not exist

😦 Some people believe that the existence of machines helps to generate more profit than loss.

flag-of-indonesia This is a common translation problem for Indonesians. Keberadaan!

In English it is automatically assumed that things and people exist, unless otherwise stated.

🙂 Some people believe that machines help to generate more profit than loss.

🙂 Some people believe that the absence of machines can result in losses.

Incidentally, can anyone guess the names of the couple in the cover photo for this post, and why were they chosen? Comments below! 🙂

@eapguru

Ethnic(ity)

😦 Different ethnics will have different languages to communicate.

flag-of-indonesia This is one of those situations where the English word has been borrowed and its use altered. In this case what was in English an adjective has been turned into a noun.

English offers two word forms – ethnic (adjective), ethnicity (noun):

🙂 Different ethnic groups will have different languages to communicate.

🙂 People with different ethnicity will have different languages to communicate.

And by the way, how exactly do you describe your own ethnicity? Comments below!

@eapguru

Are the benefits beneficial?

😦 Constructing impressive buildings benefits more for visitors than local people.

flag-of-indonesia This is another word that gets partly lost in translation. Let’s look at some possible improvements.

Benefit – verb

Constructing impressive buildings benefits visitors more than local people.

The verb ‘benefit’ is transitive, no preposition. Notice the position of ‘more’ in the comparison!

Beneficial – adjective

Constructing impressive buildings is more beneficial for visitors than for local people.

The adjective ‘beneficial’ may be followed by a preposition phrase – usually ‘beneficial + for’ (except “When attempting to lose weight it is more beneficial to exercise than to diet.”).

Without a comparative you might also write:

Constructing impressive buildings is beneficial.

Benefit – noun

The benefits to visitors of constructing impressive buildings are greater than the benefits to local people.

The noun ‘benefit’ – when applied to people (visitors) – is followed by ‘to‘.
When applied to things (constructing impressive buildings) it is followed by ‘of‘.

@eapguru

Not everything is ‘convenient’

😦 Physical shops are more convenient than online stores. Firstly, in physical shops customers are able to touch goods and try on clothes. Secondly, shopping in physical shops can be a social activity.

There is a category of physical store aptly named ‘convenience stores’. Many countries have 7 Elevens. In Indonesia we have Indomaret, Alfamart and Circle K.

flag-of-indonesia Indonesians might call a shop that sells everything at a low price ‘convenient’. However, the prices in convenience stores like Circle K can be quite a lot higher than average. These shops inflate prices precisely so that they can offer ‘conveniences’:

  • they are numerous, especially in cities
  • they have ample parking if they are situated on a road
  • they can even be found inside large shopping centres
  • they stock items that most people need on a daily basis
  • they provide fast and efficient service

These are all features that most people would consider ‘convenient’. In English if something saves you time and effort then it is ‘convenient’. Being able to touch goods is not a matter of ‘convenience’. It may be practical, but it is not what most people would call ‘convenient’, and neither is meeting your friends when you go to physical stores.

For your convenience, here are some definitions of ‘convenience’, as well as some pictures of convenient things.

@eapguru

The Impact Song


I’ve covered this collocation problem in a previous post. Students’ first language drives them to produce ‘bring an impact to/for’.

I thought that by writing a song featuring the correct collocation, they might be brainwashed into getting it right next time.

I’ll get back to you when I’ve seen some writing ‘post-song’!

@eapguru

Ways that have to be done

😦 There are more ways that have to be done to halt the spread of HIV.

‘Ways’ followed by ‘to + V1’ is quite common, as in the expression “There’s more than one way to kill a cat.”

However, ‘way’ (noun) does not collocate in English with ‘do’ (verb). You cannot ‘do’ a ‘way’. This is possible in some languages (flag-of-indonesia), but not in English.

Another problem here is the redundant use of ‘there are’ (see previous post).

In English you might write:

🙂 More action needs to be taken to halt the spread of HIV.

OR

🙂 More solutions needs to be considered to halt the spread of HIV.

Remember that strong collocation like this will get you a higher score for vocabulary in IELTS speaking and writing. You will find references to collocation in the IELTS public band descriptors.

@eapguru