Thursday, November 4, 2010

Translations and Editing

In this morning's Star-Advertiser there was an interesting Island Voices piece, "Chinese translation of election ballot was poorly done." The writer said the Chinese translation of the latest election ballot contained inconsistencies, mistranslations, and unintelligible parts that confused and frustrated Chinese voters. Language access is a hot issue, and I think most agencies are happy just to find someone, or anyone, who can translate their materials. Increasingly, though, we hear about poor translations. This article points out the real problems that poor translations can cause and suggests the need for competent editors, as well as translators, in all languages.


Samantha said...

Hi Tisha,

I'm sorry this response is a little belated, but I also found that article in the Star Advertiser interesting. My boss works as a Chinese translator and interpreter in the community and I've found that this job requires a lot of activism. What was really striking about this article was the comments section, which included many remarks expressing the "English Only" mentality. The Civil Rights Act mandates that government documents be made available to LEP (Limted English Proficiency) speakers, and I think that a lot of people are ignorant about the learning curve for immigrants. Research shows that most immigrants do learn English, but that it is often a generational process. Americans tend to take up arms when the English ballot is unclear (I remember the Florida ballot crisis), and since all citizens are entitled to vote, they should all be entitled to a legible ballot.

Pat said...

I really enjoyed this exchange between you two. Translation is more important than ever, if only because people are so intent on annihilating other languages. This past weekend, I went to see the new Clint Eastwood film, Hereafter, and was surprised and happy to find that part of the movie was in another language: French. My movie partner was a politically conservative person, so I was a bit worried he might not like the movie because of its French content. However, he enjoyed it almost as much as I did. We can teach and instruct when we combine language with art.

Viva la multiplicity!