Train-ing problems


While Skyping about machine translated spam into Dutch with friends, which is hilarious, I booked me a train ticket to Berlin. I have no qualms about booking plane tickets, as those e-tickets work just fine. However, knowing the poor online reputation of the Dutch railways, I wasn’t sure if I should book it online, but eventually went for it.

Besides a half-Dutch, half-English website with mistakes and title tags with the wrong prices, this confirmation e-mail landed in my inbox:

“Do not reply at this message.
This is a send-only e-mailaddress”

“At” should be “to”, a typical Dutch mistake that could have easily been checked.
“E-mailaddress” is a literal translation of “emailadres”.

They still don’t get that consumer confidence also includes proper communication. They’re just lucky they’re that much cheaper than the plane this time. I’m also waiting for a programmer to blame the CMS.

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9 Responses to “Train-ing problems”

  1. Joke says:

    E-mail in Dutch always needs a hyphen: e-mailadres. Without hyphen it reads ’email’, meaning ‘enamel’.

  2. Gaia says:

    So, what would be the correct word for ‘e-mailadres’ in English? Van Dale says it should be ‘e-mail address’, which means the only mistake is a space, which hardly warrants your harsh words.

  3. Natashka says:

    I think that the Dutch Railways owes it to its users to communicate properly, considering their track record. If the rest was OK, I’d ignore a space, no problem. And you should see the Dutch!

    And they have the budget and resources to use English, they should use it properly. Or not at all.

  4. Tulip says:

    Quite agree with Natashka. The NS hispeed website ha ha is impossible to understand – the English is bizarre and gives you quite different prices than the Dutch. We ended up taking the plane.

  5. Troy says:

    How odd of you to describe “e-mailaddress” as a literal translation of a Dutch word, when in fact the only thing Dutch about it is the lack of space between ‘e-mail’ and ‘address’.

    I’m also amazed by your condemnation of Dutchman-English, seeing as your own writing style is quite poor. Let’s look at this blog entry. “Besides a half-Dutch, half English website with mistakes and title tags with the wrong prices, this confirmation e-mail landed in my inbox”. Grammatically this sentence is quite incorrect, unless you were meaning to say a website landed in your inbox.

    If you criticize others on their second-language skills, you could at least make sure you know your own language.

  6. Natashka says:

    You’ve missed the point, but these things happen. I help people everyday improve their English and their French when I can. And I love a good correction myself, so for that I say thanks. However, don’t take things so personally and make it an ‘us’ against ‘them’ issue!

  7. Troy says:

    If I missed the point, I hope you’ll be so kind to tell me what the point was. I actually thought this pretty much summed up your point: “And they have the budget and resources to use English, they should use it properly. Or not at all.” With which I don’t agree; if I didn’t speak Dutch and wanted some travel information, I would prefer being addressed to in bad English over not being offered an English translation at all.

    I’m not making this an ‘us-against-them’ issue. There’s not really a ‘them’, not a country filled with people speaking mangled English, and if there was, I wouldn’t consider myself part of it. Nor do I believe there’s an ‘us’, actually my experience is that native English speakers find Dutch attempts to speak English quite commendable. Probably especially because (in Britain anyway) their own knowledge of foreign languages is limited, aside from some malpronounced French.

    Now, what I am criticizing is your practice on this blog to spot tiny little mistakes (a missing space in ‘e-mail address’…) and be absolutely derisive about them. Give ’em a break. Not only are you making a bigger deal of errors than they actually are, I think you also overstate the communication problems they bring about. I’m not a native speaker of English, but please tell me, would a native speaker really not understand the pun in “don’t jazzytate”? I find that hard to believe. Same with the “on parle français”. Wouldn’t it have been enough to note the error in “speak English”, without making up something about European francophones not liking the “on parle” construction? (Which as far as I know is not true.)

    I do like your blog. That is, the parts of it that demonstrate laughable Dunglish (e.g. “walk the grass”). The entries nitpicking on trivial dutchisms , it could do without.

  8. Natashka says:

    I get your point and thanks for the compliment as well. Tiny little mistakes I point out because someone else here will, and then I get 10 mails saying I forgot something!

    But no, the Dutch corporate world is rich and has everything they need to communicate properly. I will not give them a break.

    And I do plan to change things up when I can, voor de afwisseling 🙂 Cheers!

  9. Evan says:

    I guess it’s not about poor English or a grammatically correct English, the main problem in the website is that many of the crucial information is only in Dutch! Information as Contacts,FAQs…also the on-line sales doesn’t work at all. Last week I was trying to buy a ticket at the nshispeed website, after dozens of attempts, no luck, I tried using my credit card, iDeal bank transfer, MasterCard, and none of these options worked out. Also they provide a telesales number, but it doesn’t work outside of Europe. Well my question is, is there any way to buy this freaking tickets if you are overseas ? Thanks

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