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Experts blame airline translation error on lack of professionalism

2011/05/15 18:06:24

Taipei, May 15 (CNA) Local language experts have attributed aglaring translation error on a map published by Taipei-based ChinaAirlines (CAL) to a lack of respect for translation professionalismon the part of the airline.

When flying a CAL flight to return to Taiwan from the Indian cityof Delhi last month, a Taiwanese citizen surnamed Lee discovered aplace on the map of Taiwan shown on the in-flight TV screen that hehad never heard of.

It was not until later that he realized that CAL translatorsworking from an English translation had misinterpreted theromanization for "Chiai, " a county in southern Taiwan, and hadre-translated it back into Chinese as "Chi-ai" instead of "Chia-i, "the Chinese-language newspaper United Daily News reported Sunday.

The normal romanization of that county is Chiayi.

The mistranslation also attracted the anger of Chung Ming-shih,tourism bureau chief of the southern county, who described it as a"serious mistake" and demanded an immediate correction.

In response, CAL promised to correct the Chinese characters forthe place name as soon as possible.

Vincent Chang, a professor at National Taiwan Normal University'sDepartment of English, said the mistake shows that CAL has obviouslyignored the importance of translation. The company could easily haveavoided the mishap simply by employing a competent editor, he noted.

Chen Chao-ming, an English department professor at NationalChengchi University, echoed Chang's view.

Many government agencies and businesses are in the habit ofgiving very low priority to their translation projects and merely gowith the lowest bidder irrespective of their skills, to save money,he said.

Unsurprisingly, they invariably end up with "wrong Englishtranslations produced by translation machines," Chen added.

Similar translation mistakes, coupled with the failure toimplement a universal form of widely recognized Pinyin romanization,are not uncommon elsewhere in Taiwan, particularly on street signs orsignage at public transport facilities.

This phenomenon causes widespread confusion, irritation andmockery among foreign visitors who find themselves unable to use thesigns to get around.

To address these problems, professors and other experts haveurged both the public and private sectors to attach greaterimportance to the training of translators and to take the translationbusiness seriously.

(By Alex Jiang)