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Deciphering "Burda English" by referring to the French or Spanish (Tip/Technique)
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Review rated Helpful by 3 people   Very Helpful by 8 people   
Posted by: Vintage Joan
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Posted on: 2/24/09 2:02 PM
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Burda envelope patterns give instructions in three languages: Spanish, French, and what they like to think of as English. If you happen to to be at least reasonably fluent in French or Spanish, you can decipher some of their bad English translations by referring to the French or Spanish wording.
Examples:
.....On a men's pants pattern I'm working on, it says to "cut out lining with pieces # 3 and 10." Never having made men's dress pants before, I assumed they meant to cut those pieces out in lining as well as in the pants fabric. But what the heck... nowhere in the pattern did it say to attach these pieces of lining to the same pieces cut in regular fabric. Then it hit me -- read the French. (Smacks self in head, why didn't I think of this before?) In French it says to cut out pieces 3 and 10 IN lining fabric. Very clear. Pieces 3 and 10 are to be cut out of lining fabric, nothing else.
.....On a Burda "no experience required/beginner" skirt I just finished, one of the things it says is, "When sewing, right sides of the fabric should be facing." Out of curiosity I asked my non-sewing daughter what she thought that meant. "Right sides facing you," she said. Primal scream. In French it states this same thing so unambiguously that you couldn't mistake the meaning if you tried. I'm not completely fluent in Spanish, but I understand enough to know that the Spanish translations, too, are far less ambiguous and confusing than the "English" ones.

I realize this tip is not for everybody, but those of you who have a very good working knowledge of either French or Spanish should find it very helpful to make a habit of reading over those instructions as well, in case you encounter some nonsensical or ambiguous wording in the English translation (you will).

P.S. Sorry, the above tip only applies to Burda envelope patterns, not BWOF or Burda Plus, which come in unilingual versions (one language per magazine). However, I was told by the Canadian Burda magazine distributor that if you have a decent understanding of German, you should just use the German version. She says the German instructions are WAY clearer than the English. I'm not quite brave enough to do this myself yet, but I'll throw it out there in case a few of you want to give this a try.
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7 Comments      Login to Add a Comment
seweibhlin said...
Merci, beaucoup I mean this makes so much sense-I knew all those years of high school and college French would help me in sewing Burda Patterns- now off to read my Bernina (badly translated) sewing machine manuals--this time in French. thanks for a great tip.
2/24/09 4:58 PM
Heather Seccombe said...
BWOF 4/2008-104 states "Onthe outside of the hem band stitch in the joining seamline" which = "stitch in the ditch"
2/25/09 0:39 AM
bluefly said...
Interesting. I have been getting some German magazines to read for different ideas in decorating and recipes. I'll have to remember this tip.
2/25/09 7:55 AM
Lucy in Virginia said...
Hmmm. Wonder why this is. English is a Germanic language and the way things are said in English are way closer to how they're said German than either French or Spanish. Perhaps therein lies the downfall. They try harder for the French and English! Thanks for your tip. With my dictionaries, I think I will try this when I'm stumped.
2/25/09 12:47 PM
Vintage Joan said...
Lucy, I can't explain why their English translations are often so bad. I think you may be right -- they may assume they "know" English because there are more similarities between German and English. I also think they must use non-native English speakers to do their English translations. In some ways French (and I assume Spanish?) is more precise and literal than English, too -- for example, in French if you said you were going to sit "in" a chair it would mean you were going to sit right inside the wood itself. ;) So perhaps they know this and are more careful with their French and Spanish translations.
2/25/09 10:01 PM
ilovedobermans2 said...
Deeply appreciate the tip. I also don't feel as unintelligent now that I know others have had a problem understanding the directions!
3/7/09 5:43 AM
fuzzygalore said...
I have no doubt that the German version is clearer than all the rest put together. Bad enough to have unclear instructions for people who already know what they're doing, but bad translations on top add a layer of obscurity which almost cannot be overcome. However I'd caution people to take those other versions with a grain of salt too. For instance, it took me a long while to figure out that they systematically use 'laize' to mean fabric width (largeur, in real French). Never seen that word, no idea where they got it from..
6/11/09 1:49 AM

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