Translation news stories

5 Translation News Stories from Around the Web

Downtime is a rare luxury indeed here at Linguistica International HQ, but when there is a quiet moment, we like nothing more than a quick perusal of the web to catch up on all the latest translation news. Technically, it’s still work, so we can get away with it. These labours also bear fruit in the form of this blog. So grab yourself a tea, sit back and have a read of five translation news stories from around the web…

1. Mistranslations can cause nuclear war

We all know that mistranslations are serious – I mean, even Google penalises websites that use its own automated translation tool. But, did you know that translation errors in news coverage helped to push the US and the Russians to the brink of the unthinkable during the Cold War?

To make things worse, the same thing is happening in the Western media today, with simple mistakes escalating the situation with Iran. As if we didn’t have enough trouble with North Korea! Read more about the nuclear fallout of shoddy translation in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.

2. Croatian-to-English translation disasters

After that sobering news, let’s brighten the mood with a little translation chuckle. Translation can bring the world to the brink of Armageddon, but it can also be quite funny. Here are a few examples of the good people of Croatia exercising their English skills with less-than-perfect results.

3. New speakers of forest tongue

Forest tongue might sound like some sort of fungal infection, but we’re referring to the endangered Elfdalian language, a language spoken by approximately 2,000 inhabitants of a remote part of Sweden. The beauty of this language is that it split off from Old Norse in the Middle Ages and has been left to develop in isolation since then.

The good news for this critically-endangered language is that it now boasts 26 brand new speakers following a week-long course that attracted people from around the world. The fact that it was such a short course, however, means the new speakers of this little-known forest tongue are still quite green – ha! Find out more here.

4. Make up your mind, Algeria

Did you know that Algeria is currently unable to decide which language it wants to speak? The Economist reports that the country is struggling to balance the use of French, Arabic, Berber and Darija, the four major languages spoken in the country, and this is hampering its development. What do they plan to do about it? We’ve spoon-fed you enough. You’ll have to read the article for yourself.

5. Chinese readers don’t appreciate the classics

The final story we’ll bore tease you with this week is the news that the extremely poor rates of pay for literary translators in China means that Chinese readers are failing to enjoy classic works of foreign literature. Why? Well, with translators and editors forced to work for next to nothing, the quality of the translations is poor. The result is that great works are being reproduced littered with mistakes, which is giving some of our best literature a bad name. Check out Sixth Tone to find out more.

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