Friday, December 23, 2011

Lost in Translation - Hilarity This Way

Christmas weekend is here, and what better way to lead us into the holidays but another edition of “Lost in Translation”!

Have to give the Welsh credit— with signs warning motorists of “exploding workers” or that they’re heading down the “Shear Madness” (or in Welsh, “Mad Sheep Shearing”), it certainly can get distracted drivers to actually pay attention to the road!   

Apparently, bilingual mistranslations like these are so commonplace in Wales that a book is being published about it titled Sygmraeg— the name used for bad translations. It even includes a sign between Cardiff and Penarth notifying cyclists that they have an “inflamed bladder” and a contradictory warning to pedestrians in Cardiff to “Look Right” in English and “Look Left” in Welsh. How confusing!

Other gems include a wine shop that reads in English: “Wines and Spirits” except the Welsh is translated to “Wines and Ghosts.” Or the sign that reads “Business open as usual” and “Business not open” in Welsh.  

Most famous of these was a sign placed in a Swansea roadside: “No entry for heavy good vehicles. Residential site only,” but in Welsh read, “I’m not in the office at the moment. Send any translation work.”

The mistranslations were collected by Welsh language magazine Golweg after readers started submitting them to its satirical column by Jac Codi Baw.

Happy Holidays from World Services!

*Source: WalesOnline

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Lost in Translation - The Price of a Word

What could cost taxpayers in New South Wales tens of thousands of dollars? New taxes? Construction projects? None of the above— the bill is tagged to the alleged mistranslation of the Indonesian word “push” after it caused a criminal trial to be aborted.

The problem arose when a juror who spoke Indonesian wrote a note to the judge about “some discrepancies in the translation” of the questions tasked to an accused Indonesian smuggler. The juror cited two examples:

1. The phrase “did you stop anyone moving” was allegedly mistranslated as “did you push anyone”.

2. The word “push” was allegedly used versus the word “deny”.

The juror’s allegations were aimed at the second interpreter used for the case after the first one was criticized by the smuggler’s lawyer.

Ultimately, Judge Freeman agreed that the case had to be aborted as the juror who made the allegations shared his observations with rest of the jury.

“In a sense, that juror has become like a witness in the trial … Now that is a situation which we can't allow to exist, because at the end of the trial I have to be in a position where I say to you that the evidence upon which you reach your decision is that which comes from the witness box,” the judge said.

*Source: The Sydney Morning Herald

Friday, November 18, 2011

Top 5 Interpreter Mistakes

We all make them— and we are quick to gloss over them. We are talking about the “m” word: “mistakes.” Interpretation mistakes, however, are difficult to gloss over when communication can be a one-way street. Once something is spoken... it’s out there to be heard! Today, we have listed the top 5 common interpretation mistakes as a frontline defense for both new and experienced interpreters!

1. Hot & Cold Potato – We all read the hilarious (or appalling) headlines of celebrities and politicians with a hot mic. Most interpreters though have the opposite problem— having the microphone ON. The solution is a simple one: be sure the microphone is on and ready to go. Although, the parallel is also true: be wary of hot mics!

2. Bonjour! Como estas? – Another common problem for interpreters: realizing you were speaking in the wrong language; this especially holds true for interpreters that are proficient in several languages. It happens to even the most experienced interpreters and the best defense is to remember your audience and listening to yourself.

3. A Phrase is Worth 1000 Words – Direct interpretations are not always… well, direct. Expressing that “it’s a beautiful day” as “it’s a beautiful day” may be technically correct, but it might not be the way the locals express it. It’ a lot of work, but be up to date on your jargon, phrases, and even historical use of words.

4. What You Say? – It’s going to happen: you’ll mishear something and say it as something else. For example, one interpreter heard “concrete welds” when the speaker was saying “concrete wells.”

5. Google It! – No, no, and just NO. The problem is that incidents of interpreters using Google Translate or similar browser-translated programs have actually happened. Certified, government and private contracted interpreters resorting to Google Translate. Just don’t do it!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Lost in Translation - Another Gov't Fumbles a Foreign Interpretation

The Feds messed up— big time. According to a story from Talking Points Memo, lawyer Haytham Faraj claimed that authorities fumbled a translated conversation between his client—alleged Syrian spy Mohamad Anas Haitham Soueid—and his wife via a flawed translator and even used Google Translate.

Faraj claimed that government “has demonstrated a serious deficit in its ability to translate recorded conversations from Arabic into English.” Talk about déjà vu— considering that just a month ago an Iranian refugee almost ended up being deported because of a government interpreter that also took creative liberties with the translation.

In this case, Faraj asserted that the Feds even misrepresented Soueid’s Arabic name by simply typing the words of his English name into Google’s translate program. He continued that the government translator even went far as to take “extensive liberties” between Soueid and his wife and transformed it “into a sinister warning that has no basis in fact.”

The lawyer cited a government transcript of the conversation which has Soueid saying “God Damn you - you - I will deal with you later” and observed that only the word ‘you’ was said within that statement and the rest was a “fabrication.”

Faraj continued:

“Within the same paragraph, the translator takes even graver liberties with the truth. The translator writes “you are talking to me over the phone- and this phone belongs to Intelligence agency - I am not supposed to be talking on it.” The translator missed a clear announcement of the words “over there,” the non possessive “telephone” and then “the intelligence service/agency” rather than “this phone belongs to the Intelligence Agency. To a listener fluent in Arabic, the speaker clearly indicates that he was not free to speak on the telephone because the intelligence service monitors phone calls. And that statement fits contextually within the tone, volume, and playfulness of the back and forth dialogue between husband and wife who defiantly and jokily states “Me, the intelligence service knows me…I...I am not afraid of the intelligence service.” Anyone aware of Syrian language, culture and life in Syria understands that Syrians constantly assume their calls are being monitored. Syrian culture is rife with humor about the Mukhabarat listening in on conversations. Such cultural aspects of Syrian life are commonly known and should be understood by anyone undertaking to translate a Syrian dialect conversation into English. The errors and fabrications in the Government translation are troubling, twist the meaning and portray a conversation that is disconnected from reality.”

So, all in two sentences the government translator reportedly botched the English translation and made contextual and cultural errors. Several questions come to mind in this case and the one last month with the Iranian refugee in Canada: Are these cases of bad contracting? Or are these cases of contractors hiring uncertified Arabic translators? Or was this all due to a shortage of Arabic translators since 9/11, according to Talking Point Memo.com?

Friday, October 28, 2011

Road to Success

It is discouraging to watch the storm of economic uncertainty hovering over the country, and seeing job-seekers pursuing one elusive opportunity after another; interpreters and translators included. More than ever, resumes are important first-and-sometimes-only-impression to employers and is crucial to snatching that crucial interview.

World Services is always on the lookout for interpreters and translators all across the country. For you interpreters and translators looking for work, we have compiled a list of tips and advice for your resume to be considered should you decide to apply for us!

1. Be sure to include on-the-job accomplishments, these can be more telling than just a list of responsibilities!

2. Edit, edit, edit! Proofread and spell-check before submitting. As interpreters and translators, a.k.a. language professionals, demonstrate that you know how to use the written word or your abilities will be put into question.

3. Maintain a consistent format throughout your resume (keep margins, headers, and listing of responsibilities the same).

4. Identify languages that you are only 100% proficient. One semester of language X does not make you an expert.

5. Details! Point out all the experience you have as an interpreter/translator including any translation or interpretation certificates (Bridging the Gap, medical of court, ATA, NAJIT, etc.), company name/dates, projects and work done on the job.

6. Don’t have interpreting experience? Go volunteer at a local non-profit organization, school, hospital/clinic or foreign communities to get some!

Is your resume already all set and prepped to submit? Have all your paperwork in order as well, including: cover letter, copies of any certifications you may have, a list of cities that you are available to work and accurate contact information. Good luck out there on the job hunt!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Lost in Translation - Siri Strikes the Scots

Despite being the butt-end of jokes (literally) in Japan, Apple’s Siri is again lost in translation— this time with the Scots. Scottish iPhone 4S users are discovering that Siri’s new voice recognition app is unable to understand their accents and is instead interpreting their dialect to bizarre and perplexing results.

According to the Daily Mail, irate messages have proliferated tech websites and forums and videos have even cropped up in YouTube; some videos even receiving more than 17,000 hits in just a week.

In one such video, a Scottish voice can be heard asking Siri: “Gonnae no dae that.” The phone bafflingly replied with: “Going Akila.”

“Can you dance with me?” is hilariously translated as “Can you dutch women.”

“We have tested out Siri a number of times with many different accents, such as Scottish, Welsh and Irish. We are not too sure if Apple is looking into this, we have been trying to find out,” said Mark Chubb, a gadget expert for Phones Review. “We will try and find out more, but at the moment it looks like a few will miss out on using this new Siri feature.”

Apple, for now, has refused to comment on the issue.
*Source: Daily Mail Online

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Exotic Cursing & The Best Cover for a Foreign Spy

Exotic Swearing

Bulletstorm was to be an over-the-top shooter game with large weapons and its arsenal of ridiculous swear words— well, less on the cursing in retrospect, creative director of the Polish development team People Can Fly Adrian Chmielarz admitted:

“Do you know any swear word in a foreign language? German, French, Polish? When you say it out loud, no biggie, right? Not a problem to use it during a family dinner, I assume?

“That is how all the f-bombs sounded to us. Being Polish, all the strong language in Bulletstorm was just exotic and fun to us. We did not feel its power. In other words, Epic thought this is what we wanted and respected our creative vision, while we had no idea this vision was a bit more than we really wanted.

“It was only at the end of the development, when I read the Polish translation of the game, that I realized how dirty we were. I swear a lot. A LOT. And yet still I ...kind of blushed.”

Playing with a foreign language’s curses may be fun and exotic, but it does not translate over well as Chmielarz learned.

*Source: Gamasutra

Best Cover for a Foreign Spy

Modern spies are seen through the Hollywood lens of James Bond or Mission Impossible— suave agents with an assortment of identities suited for any situation. Real spies are more practical in their choice of cover however— like a foreign interpreter for instance, but even that cover is not infallible. This month, Russian revealed that it arrested a Chinese man posing as an official interpreter for spying.

The Russian Federal Security Service said Tun Sheniyun was arrested in Moscow last year for allegedly trying to obtain secret documents about Russia’s missile systems.

The FSB released a succinct, short statement on the issue:

“The investigation established that the Chinese national (was) working on assignment from the Ministry of Public Security of the People’s Republic of China.”

Being an interpreter provides the perfect excuse for being in a foreign country without much scrutiny. It is certainly not enough to be caught pursuing classified documents on missile systems, however.

*Source: Global Post

Friday, October 14, 2011

A Tale of Interpretation and Costs

What happens when a hospital misuses its translations services? One hospital found out the hard way in the form of a bill that jumped by 80% in just a year.

According to numbers from the Freedom of Information Act, Ispwich Hospital paid out a whopping £27,000 pounds— up from £15,000 pounds last year.

“It would appear from various reports coming out of Ipswich Hospital that there are problems with how management are coping with things like this and managing their sums,” explained Prue Rush, a Suffolk health campaigner.

“We looked at where the demand was increasing and looked at whether we could provide the service in a different way,” responded a spokeswoman for Ispwich Hospital.

The spokeswoman said the hospital commenced a review after discovering the rise in costs. The hospital had to ensure the “correct translation service” was used for the “correct situation” even though not all of its services were used in the “right way,” she continued.

“I think we have seen many more patients more quickly, and inevitably that means an increase in demand,” the spokeswoman finished.

Although the crux of Ispwich Hospital’s woes consists of bad accounting and not from interpretation services, the moral of the story is that regardless of costs communication services remain vital in the medical industry.

“It’s vitally important that when a patient is talking to a doctor or vice versa there is a clear understanding of what’s being said,” said Rush.

*Source: EADT24

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Chinese University Attracts Overseas Students

Programs like Rosetta Stone, online translation sites like Babel Fish and local universities can only do so much. The best way to learn a language is still to go straight to the source, which is what a lot of overseas students have done with Beijing Foreign Studies University (BFSU) to learn Chinese for a variety of reasons.

Adam Daniel Bruer-Zehevi for example is attending the university to open a translation company next year. “I have a business plan in Beijing, and Chinese language study is my final preparation before I open my translation company next year,” he said.

Miyuki Edo, a Japanese woman, is another language student that is studying at BFSU to hone her Chinese, “More Chinese are visiting Tokyo every year, and Japanese who can speak fluent Chinese are popular in the tourism employment market.”

Edo continued that her friends joined the university to be in the city during the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. Bruer-Zehevi observed that he also wanted to see the “real China and its people.”

“We also enroll a lot of students from less-developed countries who have scholarships funded by the Chinese government,” said university president Chen Yulu. “In China, only BFSU has the teaching and research resources of some less commonly taught languages, so students from these countries prefer our university.”

Yulu noted that about 1,500 oversea students are studying at BFSU this year, an increase of 500 more students compared to the record set in 2008. South Korea has the most oversea students in the university followed by Japan, Malaysia and Italy.

Future plans for the university includes attracting more students from Western countries for degree studies and foreign officials for short-term programs.

“We also welcome overseas students who have learned some Chinese in our overseas Confucius Institutes and want to further their study in Beijing,” Yulu concluded.

*Source: China Daily

Friday, October 7, 2011

Lost in Translation - Interpreter Almost Causes Deportation

In a classic case of being “lost in translation” an Iranian refugee fell prey to the latest language snafu at the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) during a refugee hearing that almost got him deported due to multiple translation errors by an interpreter.

Ali Zaree is an anti-government activist that fled Iran and claimed refugee protection in Canada after authorities came to his home. In his two hour hearing, more than 40 translation errors were made in questions, answers, key words and dates.

“Even the applicant, who speaks no French and understands very little English, noticed that her English was not very good,” wrote Justice Luc Martineau.

For example, when Mr. Zaree said: “I wanted to be completely sure about what party I am active for and then I really accepted from the bottom of my heart that they are,” the interpreter instead said: “I wasn’t prepared to… to work with this party and I wanted to know better about this party… And when I get my heart that this party is the kind of party that I thought.”

“This is an important issue,” said Annie Bélanger, Mr. Zaree’s lawyer. “I have complained about translation problems many, many times. I have written to the IRB about many problems they have with their language interpreting. It puts everyone in a very difficult situation.”

Robert Gervais, a spokesman for the board defended the IRB’s record by pointing out that the IRB has the largest foreign-language interpreter program in Canada with 1,200 interpretation contractors accredited in 267 languages and dialects and that all interpreters are tested before accreditation.

“The board takes seriously the importance of high-quality interpretation in the holding of fair proceedings. The board takes every reasonable measure to ensure that interpretation is held to the highest quality standards,” said Gervais.

Justice Martineau ultimately overturned the IRB’s decision and Mr. Zaree is going to be provided a new hearing.

This was not the first time the IRB had a translation error case. Just this summer a woman that was also on the verge of deportation to her native Kenya for providing incoherent and evasive testimony was later revealed that the Swahili translator had “butchered” the translation.

In another case a refugee claim was delayed for years because a qualified Kusai translator could not be found— apparently long enough for the claimant to learn English well enough to proceed without a translator.

These cases only highlight the importance and need of accurate translations and competent interpreters, especially in situations involving foreign refugees.

*Source: National Post

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The National Workers' Compensation and Disability Conference® & Expo is the nation's leading event for anyone involved in the workers' comp and disability management industries. Hundreds of  colleagues gather each year to expand their knowledge and gain new solutions directly related to their workers' comp, disability and return-to-work programs.

Celebrating its 20th anniversary, the conference officially kicks off Wednesday, November 9, with the Opening General Session, followed by 2-1/2 days packed with 30+ breakout sessions organized by type and level to accommodate a range of learning styles and experience. Plus, attendees have the opportunity to arrive in Vegas a day early and attend the in-depth pre-conference symposium — an excellent chance to maximize conference experience!

The Expo portion of the conference brings more than 260 exhibitors together under one roof for 2 full days to display and answer questions about their products and services relevant to the workers' comp and disability management industries. The Expo provides an additional venue for attendees to gather knowledge to take home plus numerous opportunities to network with peers.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Forget Classrooms - Go Online for New Languages

Two things: the importance of bilingualism is growing and classrooms are going digital. Combined, these two things reveal that more than ever people are migrating to the web to learn another language. Studies show that in the U.S. alone there are increasing demands for interpreters or employees well-versed in Spanish, Arabic or Chinese. And public schools and libraries are more than happy to be the frontrunners in accommodating that demand.

According to KFYR-TV, students in Bismarck grade school are using the online program Rosetta Stone to learn Spanish. The program keeps students immersed by receiving instructions via headset and associating pictures with phrases without an English translation. Rosetta Stone is already available to consumers, but it’s a hint of a trend on the increased accessibility of language learning. Seattle public libraries are going for a different approach with LiveMocha, another online language learning service.

LiveMocha and Seattle public libraries are going to be the testing grounds for a nation-wide launch to provide free-language learning services to library patrons. Already the service is available to all 600,000 Seattle library regulars from at home or 28-hosting libraries.

“Livemocha is like a giant World Atlas filled with people and languages, and we encourage our members to become virtual tourists through language and cultural exploration,” explained Livemocha CEO Michael Schutzler.

Digital accessibility is increasingly becoming the new norm— and so is the demand to speak more than one language. Thankfully, the means for meeting the demand are mounting for those with a computer, internet access and a will.

*Source: KFYR-TV,  Tech Flash