I already mentioned that I pay attention to what people say when they speak or write a non-native language, right? So here is an article where I decided to list some of the classical mistakes people make while speaking or writing a foreign language, always among the ones I know!
First of all I wonder: ” Why people make mistakes?”
There are several reasons to why this happens, such as: they learned a language “on the street”, or just listening to it on the TV or music; they can also have learned it through the school and after many years without touching a grammar book, they forget the grammatical rules, and so on…
Second of all I wonder: ” Why I as many other translators pay attention to what and how people say or write?”
I wonder if it’s because we somehow feel superior or if it something that just comes naturally?
Well, I think that it just comes naturally, because we are specialists in constructing technically a sentence.
Let´s see some examples:
Italian– 1. As we have a lot of words which contain double letters, the most common mistake foreigners and sometimes the same Italians do is to avoid the double letters writing or saying just one of them, for example: babbo, secchiello, tutto, dappertutto, etc. Many cannot distinguish the difference from a double letter sound to a single one. 2. Other classical mistake is the wrong use of subjunctive and conditional. When we use an hypotethical sentence we should use the subjunctive in the secondary sentence and the conditional in the main one, but many don’t do that, for example: “Se avessi piú tempo, viaggerei di piú“ (Correct). “Se avrei piú tempo, viaggerei di piú” (Incorrect). 3. A last typical mistake is the wrong use of the verbs “fare” and “avere“, for example: “Ció non ha senso” (Correct). “Ció non fa senso” (Incorrect).
Spanish– 1. The most common mistake people do is to not distinguish the letters b and v, as they are pronounced with the same sound inside a word, for example: Habana (Correct)/Havana (Incorrect); Voy (Correct)/Boy (Incorrect); Haber (Correct)/Haver (Incorrect); and so on. 2. Another mistake is to not remember which words start with h and which do not, for example: Huevos (Correct)/Uevos (Incorrect); Hacer (Correct)/Acer (Incorrect); Hache (Correct)/Ache (Incorrect); etc. 3. Another dangerous mistake is to get confused with the letters s and c (this involves especially latin-american people who “sesean” or they speak seseo), for example: Cerveza (Correct)/Servesa or Serveza (Incorrect); Profesional (Correct)/Profecional (Incorrect); Sencillo (Correct)/ Sensillo (Incorrect); etc.
English– 1. The most common mistake that people do is the incorrect use of “don’t” for the third person. According to the conjugation of the verb “to do“, we should say “he/she/it doesn’t“, but maybe because in many songs we listen to expressions like “he/she don’t love you” or “he/she don’t care”, etc. because of the prosody and as we don’t know it, we repeat what we hear. 2. Another horrible mistake that I unfortunately notice is that almost nobody cannot distinguish the use of “people” and “persons“. According to the Oxford dictionary we use the word people as the commoner of the two words and is used in most ordinary contexts: “a group of people“; “there were only about ten people“; “several thousand people have been rehoused“; the word persons, on the other hand, tends now to be restricted to official or formal contexts, as “in this vehicle is authorized to carry twenty persons“. 3. A very serious mistake is to get confused with the regular and irregular verbs, for example: to flow, flew, flown (Correct); to flow, flowed, flowed (Incorrect); or to take, took, taken (Correct); to take, taked, taked (Incorrect).
Portuguese– 1. One mistake I noticed Portuguese people do is the confusion between “Em vez de“/ “Ao invés de“, for example: “Ao invés de elaborarmos um relatório, discutimos o assunto em reunião” (Incorrect); “Em vez de elaborarmos um relatório, discutimos o assunto em reunião” (Correct). “Em vez de” is used as a substitution, while “Ao invés de” is used as opposition. 2. Another confusion is between “Esquecer“/”Esquecer-se de“, for example: “Eu esqueci da reunião” (Incorrect); “Eu me esqueci da reunião” or “Eu esqueci a reunião“ (Correct). We have to remember to use the preposition de after the verb just when there is a pronoun which is object in the sentence. 3. Last case is the confusion between “A“/”há“,for example: “Atuo no setor de controladoria a 15 anos“(Incorrect); “Atuo no setor de controladoria há 15 anos” (Correct). Há is used for expressing a past episode. A is used for expressing a future moment.
Norwegian– 1. One mistake that caught my attention is the confusion between the pronoun as subject and the pronoun as object, for example: ” Jeg trenger å snakke med henne” (Correct); “Jeg trenger å snakke med hun” (Incorrect)- many Norwegian use the incorrect one. Hun is the subject and henne is the object. 2. Another mistake is to not know how to write some words, for example: epost (Incorrect); e-post (Correct); istedet (Incorrect); i stedet (Correct); etc. 3. A last mistake could be the confusion of the same words which belong to the Norwegian dialects that mean different things, for example: Stavangersk, Bergensk, dialects from the north, etc. Here you just need to be used to those words and each meaning according to each dialect and memorize them.
Hard job eh?
Do you also make many mistakes in your language?