Toad of Road Hall?

Killing time in a cheap toy shop today I couldn’t help being struck by the labelling on the (Chinese-made) toys.

While the substitution of T for R made the first the most amusing to me, the language of the others left a lot to be desired, with their invented words and meaningless sentences…!


What about frogs?

Is it just me, or is the F badly placed?

Is it just me, or is the ‘F’ badly placed?

Maybe this next one is just me. ‘Ideation‘ apparently does actually exist as a word, but it’s not exactly common, is it?


If I knew what ideation was, maybe I could enhance it.

The following text is apparently a recurrent error on packaging, given these links: Cheap Toy Poetry, Make Five and Engrish. Presumably should be ‘Once owned, nothing else will do’.

Presumably should be 'Once owned, nothing else will do'.

But what about if ‘Once owned, I don’t like?’

The last one is apparently pretty common too, on doll packaging.

Pure gobbledygook!

Pure gobbledygook!

P.S. Talking of toads, here are two more amusing pictures on the theme. The first was a sign outside an Italian restaurant in Essex:

The second was posted on the windshield of a vehicle parked in the (empty) car park of the Murfreesboro Learning Center:


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Useful web tools (part 3)

Here’s another round-up of some useful tools and websites I’ve come across recently which I’d like to share with you.

For Translation

  • Jost Zetzsche shared this link to Useful free or inexpensive tools for translators in one of his recent International Writers Toolkit newsletters. It’s a list of 23 useful tools to make a translator’s life easier.
  • I’m currently experimenting with Terra TMS which is a web-based translation management and invoicing system for language professionals. You can use it on any platform, and import your contacts from Excel or Outlook. There are different versions: Standard, Starter and Free. The free version lets you add up to 200 jobs and clients. I’ll write more about how I’m getting on with it in a future post. The same people have also developed a free Chrome extension called “Word Counter for Translators” to count the words (and characters) on a web page and calculate the number of standard lines.

Free Google Chrome extension

  • On his Translation Tribulations blog Kevin Lossner shared his Excel rate equivalence spreadsheet that allows you to express your source word rate as a cost per standard line or page of target text. The downloadable file is full of Kevin’s own calculations to show you how it works, but you can replace it with your own statistics.
  • Finally, CAT guru Dominique Pivard compares Terminotix Toolbar for Microsoft Word with the similar Intelliwebsearch in this video. Both are free; Terminotix is best suited for translators who work with French, English and perhaps Spanish and who translate directly in Word or use a Word-based translation tool, while IntelliWebSearch is more difficult to configure but is also more flexible and can be accessed from any Windows application. However as both are for PC computers only I haven’t been able to try them out myself – but I’d be interested to hear from anyone who has.


  • If, like me, you’re a non-native speaker of French you might occasionally get confused when you have to write out French numbers as words (do I need a hyphen? is it cent or cents?). With dCode you just enter the number as a figure and it gets converted to words.
des chiffres et des lettres

Des chiffres et des lettres

General internet

  • Collusion is an experimental add-on for Mozilla Firefox which allows you to see all the third parties that are tracking your movements across the Web. The result is quite … scary. Of course not all tracking is bad, but most of it happens without our knowledge and consent. So if you’re at all interested in internet transparency this is for you.
  • Still on the subject of  Mozilla, I’m a great fan of Ted Talks, and in this short talk Mozilla Foundation’s COO, Ryan Merkley, shares Popcorn Maker, a new web-based tool for easy video remixing.  It’s based on the principle  that videos on the internet should work like the web itself: dynamic, full of links, maps and information that can be updated and edited live. With it you can use your web browser to combine video and audio with content from the rest of the web — from text, links and maps to pictures and live feeds. Impressive!
  • ryan merkley

    Ryan Merkley at Ted talks

  • Gaelle Gagné of Trëma Translations recently mentioned IFTTT, a service that lets you create connections (it stands for If This Then That). The idea behind it is as follows: if  ‘This’ happens Then it triggers ‘That’ action. An example of This might be ‘I publish a blog post’ or ‘I’m tagged in a photo on Facebook’, and the action that you’ve defined might be ‘send me a text message’ or ‘publish on Twitter’. There are currently triggers and actions for more than 56 channels (LinkedIn, Foursquare, Flickr, Dropbox, etc).
  • Not long ago I was travelling for a month with my laptop, and of course checking my e-mails using my e-mail software (I prefer this to using webmail). When I returned home and was using my main computer I didn’t have access to my recent Gmail messages in my e-mail software because they’d already been downloaded onto my laptop. The solution is to go to your POP client settings and replace ‘’ with ‘’.  This downloads messages from the past month.
  • If you follow Marta Stelmaszak’s Wantwords blog you might have seen her three posts “Do We Use The Right words on Our Websites to Offer Translation Services?” which took a look at the texts agencies and freelance translators use on their websites. To do this she used the nifty tool which finds the most frequent words of web site content (or any arbitrary text). (The 5 most frequent words on the English version of my website are: to, smart, translate, a, of).



  • Small Demons is a literary search engine and self-proclaimed ‘storyverse’ that lets you explore the world of books. You can search for a person, place or thing and see which books they or it occur in. It only searches books in English, and to be honest I found it somewhat limited – a search for Madagascar as a place brought up no results, for example  – but I’m sure it will improve over time. But for the moment I think I prefer sticking to a tag search on Librarything (546 tags for Madagascar, by way of comparison!).

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