When Translation Becomes Political

Politicians have a reputation for, shall we say, bending their words a little according the situation. Maybe it shouldn’t be a surprise then that they would also have a fairly loose approach to the question of what makes a good translation. Last week brought an interesting example from American politics.

Like every year, President Obama gave his State of the Union Address before the U.S. House of Representatives. Guests this year included a prisoner of Cuba, an astronaut, Ebola activists, veterans and others. Like every year, the opposition Republican Party gave its official response after the President’s speech. Joni Ernst, the Republican senator from Iowa, delivered the English-language response while Carlos Curbelo, a representative from Florida, gave a “translation” of Ernst’s speech in Spanish. (more…)

Poor Translations Cost Students Exams, Petition Claims

If you’ve ever had to deal with a bad translation in an important situation, you will sympathize with the Quebec nursing students whose petition is getting a lot of press in the Canadian media.

The students claim that the English-language version of the licensing exam of the Quebec Order of Nurses was so poor that a significant number of them failed because of it. (more…)

China, Japan, and the UK Announce Funds for Translation of Books

China, Japan, and the UK Announce Funds for Translation of BooksThe governments of Japan, China and the UK recently announced investment funds upwards of a combined 2.5 million euros for the translation of significant literature. Is this an attempt to increase global literacy, promote cross-cultural understanding or finagle political ties? It’s unclear, but here’s the breakdown of the money, the plans, and the excitement of hopeful anime fans. (more…)