As translators we are required to be excellent, which we strive to be.
The bit I’m quoting below is taken from a coupon I received from a supermarket chain that implements a customer loyalty system. Usually, I just check the amount they are refunding me, but this time I took the time to read the rest.
Literal translation into English:
‘It must be used until 03/05/2009.’
Either the original text should read:
Il peut être utilisé jusqu’au (It can be used until) 03/05/2009,
or it should be:
Il doit être utilisé avant le (It must be used before) 03/05/2009.
This sentence makes no sense. Option 1 would be possible only if you were allowed to use it several times, or if you could redeem only part of it, and redeem the rest at another time, before the expiry date. But it’s a one-time ticket, and you lose any amount that you are not using (i.e. if you’re buying something cheaper).
You can guess the meaning of course, because the only important piece of information here is the date itself.
But it’s not as if this had been translated by a poor soul speaking a language with a different grammatical structure. It simply shows that the person who wrote it is unable to follow the logic of a short, straightforward sentence, in his or her own language.
And that’s only a detail. Think about bigger things. Politics. The economy…