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Wednesday, September 19, 2007


Why translations are dangerous

When I cross-posted the item below about Iran on Daily Kos, it naturally brought forth one or more commenters raising the old bogeyman, "Ahmadinejad said he wants to wipe Israel off the map." As an object lesson of how poor translations can be, this article appeared today on the English version of Prensa Latina, about another issue I'm involved in:
Cuban anti-terrorist Fernando Gonzalez was taken from Waseca Prison in Minnesota to Terre Haute, Indiana, denounced Free the Five International Committee on Wednesday.
No, the Committee (which happens to be the National Committee, not the International Committee) did not "denounce" this information, it announced (or perhaps "pronounced") the information. You, if you're a native speaker of English, probably realized this error immediately, but to the obviously non-native speaker who did this translation, evidently the mistake was not obvious.

The point is simple. Whenever you read something that was originally written or spoken in a different language, you should be very careful before jumping to any conclusions based on the translation.

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