When was the last time you read news about a great translation or about a creative solution for a linguistic problem?
Everyday, here at Moravia and everywhere in the world, millions of words are translated and do their job well, i.e., they go totally unnoticed by their readers. Software, instructions, movies, packages, contracts, websites, conversations, virtually anytime human communication is translated from and into multiple languages it is done correctly.
However, make one mistake and the world will talk about it.
This time the victim is Korean Airlines, which just launched a direct flight from Seoul to Nairobi, and promoted it by describing Kenyans as indigenous people full of “primitive energy.” Offended Kenyans flocked to social media to complain and ridicule the language of the company. The immediate response of the airlines public relations group was to blame “a mistake in translation from Korean into English.”
Other stories come to mind like when Hillary Clinton gifted her Russia counterpart a mock “reset” button, symbolising US hopes to mend frayed ties with Moscow. But Sergey Lavrov pointed out that the word chosen, “peregruzka”, meant “overloaded” or “overcharged”, rather than “reset”.
Translation mistakes are funny when visible in signs and notices, but can cause significant damage in more formal contexts like shipping contracts.
But the fact remains that when done professionally, translations are overwhelmingly accurate and fulfill their purposes.
So, when was the last time that you read news about a good translation?