What is a trade lead?

What is a trade lead? What are trade leads? A few people asked me what is a trade lead. Informal English is good or maybe the more appropriate word here would be “notorious” for and at using verbs as nouns, nouns as verbs, verbs as adjectives, and so on. So, it comes as no surprise that the confusing term trade lead is, well… confusing to many non-native speakers. Unless they are Chinese as the latter seem to generate most trade leads nowadays. The fact that this site is bilingual – and I might make even be foolhardy enough the third language – makes this even more challenging. So difficult in fact, that the two versions do not coincide. The Russian one lives its’ own separate life in splendid isolation while the English one pretends that the other party does not really exist. In the real world, it may be the other way around.

The Usual Mismatch

So, a trade lead is a combination of two words in which the trade usurped the role of an adjective. Instead of being purely “commercial”, it became usurpatory. Quite like the deplorable though frequent situation when the word moon pretends to act as an adjective and so unceremoniously pushes over the proper adjective — “lunar“, off the moon. No big deal here – after all the word trade likes trading as an adjective. Just think of the ubiquitous combos “trademark” or “trade finance.”

Who Leads Whom?

And where? That is the question. And it is as weighty a question as the much overrated To Be or Not To Be. Since this blog is supposedly a bilingual one (though, remember the Russian part leads a life of splendid isolation, seemingly unaware of the existence of the other party, and see how that pesky verb “to lead” crawled into the sentence as (it) “leads” whatever), the Russian questions of the same existentialist sort inevitably pop up. These are “What To Do” (oft deliberately mistranslated as What is to be Done? and Who is Guilty?” (likewise traditionally rendered as “Who is to blame?). Both are sensationally boring reads. And behold, again, “reads” here became a noun in plural while it is really, frankly, honestly supposed to stick being just a normal noun. It doesn’t. And so don’t those pesky trade leads.

On the Leash

A lead in a trade lead is not a dog sort of lead though I often wish it were. And a dog lead is not really a lead but in actuality a leash. Though let me stick to the subject matter lest we unleash a nightmarish plethora of lexical paradoxes that only hardened speakers of English can cope with.

Some irritatingly stubborn though an equally idiotic program is trying to translate words as I type being obviously unaware of what I am even writing. It tries to be helpful but is clueless. One of those technological advances we would rather live without. I almost wrote “technology” as an adjective but then caught myself just in time and typed “technological” instead. Hallelujah.

Back to Trade Leads

So, let me try to make it clear (clear as mud!) to all of you faithful though yet unconsecrated in the intricacies of the cult and rite of this bizarre dialect (or pidgin?) of Norman French most generously garnished with bursts of Plattdeutsch word and grammar. I thought this would be short. I hoped! But then I plunged into this foolheartedly and the morass seems to have swallowed me. So, I’d rather stop now.

In the term “trade leads” the lead part is a hint, and not really a lead. What is meant, that the lead is a client. Almost. Look – Trade leads = sales prospects. Quite. Not quite because with sales prospects you expect to make some sales. Or at least you are being hopeful (that’s another morass of a word). But trade leads might be of a different nature. An announcement about an upcoming tender (for procurement of baked beans in Peru, for instance) qualifies as a trade lead and so does an advertisement about a fair (or a trade show) in South Africa. An offer to buy (10 000 mt of wheat from Russia) is a trade lead. An offer to sell 100 000 cashmere scarves from India is also a trade lead.

And So What?

Trade leads is a category of publications, advertisements and announcements which can be further divided into the following principal subcategories.

  1. These are classified advertisements about international commerce. Trade leads are the “buy” and “sell” ads, usually involving wholesale and large scale or industrial quantities of products in the export and import trade.
  2. And… trade leads are also advertisements about service offers in the field of international commerce.
  3. Additionally, trade leads can also include advertisements and announcements about international business opportunities. Wherever.
  4. As well as invitations for participation in assorted international tenders, invitations to submit proposals for something to somebody, with this somebody usually being not the supreme being but some two-bit bureaucracy in a remote satrapy.
  5. And, Trade leads may also include offers to finance international commercial transactions or projects. Usually bogus ones. That’s a nasty subcategory.
  6. As if that was not enough, trade leads may include advertisements from freight forwarders and brokers as well as offers from shipping agencies, and, rarely, actual carriers and ship-owners.
  7. Plus all the hints and rumors about the above.

So, How Would You Say It in Your Language?

I have no idea. I am clueless. Because the term “trade lead” or trade leads in the plural is incredibly common but is also equally incredibly mysterious.

The authoritative and almost encyclopedic online Leo dictionary, the German English dictionary, which is now maintained by a distinct limited liability company, but which had originally been a project of the Department of Data Science at the Munich University of Technology, does not even know what a “trade lead” is. Schade!

The Yandex dictionary (at least at this very moment, they might come to their senses later on) most preposterously translates the term “trade lead” into Russian as “производство свинца” or literally as the manufacture of lead. They must have either been inhaling that very substance or had been consuming it along with their potent beverages otherwise there is no way one can explain how in the Lord’s name they’d even managed to come up with a translation like that.

And translation for the term “trade lead” exists in Italian – or the one I saw was equally laughable piombo commerciale , a courtesy of Google (which it seems is no better than Yandex ).

And, irony aside (Battons le fer quand il est chaud!) the best so far was the French translation in the Linguee or at least it contains an attempt to interpret the term as something that makes sense. They’ve got it as “bulletins of commercial information” or in the French original, it reads as bulletins d’information commerciale — ( you see, see, vraiment, L’Anglais ?! Ce n’est jamais que du français mal prononcé.”).

And that’s it. So, if you’ve got some trade leads to share or need trade leads, go to the Dealing Monster, unlike the world around it’s still monstrously free.

Your Fledermausi

The Editor

#languages #grammar #dictionary #musings #idletalk #tradeshow #fair #English #advertisements #international #tradeleads #classifiedads #buy #sell #tradefinance #leads #commerce #export #import

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