Egregious errors

« previous post | next post »

From Taiwan News (3/25/23), by Keoni Everington:

"Taiwanese 'Hello Kitty' English-Chinese dictionary has 70 'egregious errors'

Publisher ACME Cultural Enterprise Co has admitted errors but not recalled dictionaries"

Cover of dictionary, example of misspelling. (Eryk Smith photo)

The article presents photographic evidence of such errors, such as ncluding mis-spelling rice as "rest", and many typos, wrong parts of speech, grammatical mistakes, dated usages, and so forth.
"not just embarrassing for you [the publisher], but for Taiwan in general, and also for Taiwan's education system." — said an American long-term resident in Kaohsiung.

On the credits page, Richard David Crooks is listed as the "Revision Editor" (zǒng shěndìng 總審訂).  I did a huge double take when I saw that, because members of the Crook family (Michael, Isabel, David, i.e., the Crooks), were prominent British and Canadian communists who lived in China during the twentieth century and whose names are often listed in authoritative PRC dictionaries and other publications as redcators and editors of English language materials.  The Richard David Crooks who was the "Revision Editor" of this Taiwanese Hello Kitty illustrated English-Chinese dictionary — if such a person actually exists — is obviously unrelated to the famous Anglo-Canadian Crook family.

This low level of English pedagogical materials is especially embarrassing in light of the Taiwan government's determination to make their country bilingual ("Chinese"-English) by 2030 — a policy that rattles the PRC government and makes their aim to take over Taiwan all the more urgent.

Selected readings

[Thanks to AntC]


  1. AlexB said,

    March 28, 2023 @ 12:45 am

    Now, apart from Wiley E. Coyote, who would put their trust in the Acme Corporation?

  2. Taylor, Philip said,

    March 28, 2023 @ 8:05 am

    "[A]part from Wiley E. Coyote, who would put their trust in the Acme Corporation ?" — Well, when I was a child, we had an Acme wringer (the immediate descendant of the mangle, but with rubber-covered steel rollers rather than wood), so Acme must have been a trusted brand in those days …

  3. Jason said,

    March 28, 2023 @ 8:40 am

    Well, in the example shown at least they got the heaadword right. I wonder how many small Taiwanese children are capable of understanding IPA, particularly the concept of an r coloured vowel. Similarly for wrong parts of speech – no child can understand much of what a verb or noun is anyway.

  4. Taylor, Philip said,

    March 28, 2023 @ 9:48 am

    "I wonder how many small Taiwanese children are capable of understanding IPA, particularly the concept of an r coloured vowel" — very few, I would imagine, but all credit to the author(s)/publisher(s) for having the good sense to use the IPA rather than (as is only to often the case) some nonce transcription. When I was studying Mandarin Chinese, it was impossible to find an Chinese/English dictionary that used the IPA, and this despite searching the best bookshops in Shanghai in the company of one or other of my Chinese teachers …

  5. yandoodan said,

    March 28, 2023 @ 11:23 am

    Personally, I'd give the example a pass. On a standard Latin keyboard the 'G' key is right below the 'T' key. If you touch type, but badly, it's easy to get the wrong one by misplacing your index finger to hit the space between them, making your selection random. (If you learned on a bang-o-matic this is less likely to happen, as you had to lift your finger all the way off the key before slamming it down elsewhere.)

  6. Terry K. said,

    March 28, 2023 @ 11:31 am

    That "birghday" typo makes me cringe. Perhaps in part because it messes up the shape of the word.

    Typos happen. But that one seems especially noticeable – should have been caught in proofreading. And good proofreading should definitely be done for such a publication.

  7. owlmadness said,

    March 28, 2023 @ 7:20 pm

    Jason, Philip —

    This may have changed — I haven't been keeping up — but at least up until a few years ago, Taiwanese schoolkids learning English were actually taught to use a phonemic system called KK (Kenyon & Knott), which is, with some exceptions, more or less a subset of IPA.

  8. JOHN S ROHSENOW said,

    March 29, 2023 @ 3:33 am

    btw: Is anyone going to contact the publisher, or has it already been done?

  9. AntC said,

    March 29, 2023 @ 9:17 pm

    @John S, from the linked article in Taiwan News:

    Company representatives said they would get back to him [Eryk Smith] in a week or so, but failed to do so.

    In January, Murray [lecturer in the Department of English at Wenzao Ursuline University of Languages — who Smith had contacted after getting no response] sent the PDF [annotating many of the more blatant errors] to two local educators and an official at the Ministry of Education (MOE). However, over two months later, she has yet to receive a response from any of these individuals.

  10. Terry Hunt said,

    March 30, 2023 @ 11:49 pm

    @ Terry K.
    "And good proofreading should definitely be done for such a publication."

    Good proofreading should be done for every publication, says this retired editor.

    Too many bandwagon-jumpers indulge in "cargo-cult publishing" – producing book-like objects without fully grasping the various expertises that are necessary to do it properly. Proofreading in particular and publishing in general is an exam with a 100% pass mark.

RSS feed for comments on this post