Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Collateral Damage of Trade....

Yesterday I posted on the link between trade and disease. Trade results in other risks as well... like creating racial offense from poor translations!

Having read the english translation on the instructions of many items made in China over the years, I can see how easy it is for this to occur. In some cases, I've found that the instructions are worse help than my own intuition! I am sympathetic to this problem, as translation is inherently a tricky activity. I can still recall coming late to a French class many years ago and apologising in French. The class laughed. I'd mistakenly described myself as retarded (retarde) instead of late (retardataire)!

As China continues to develop and move further up the value chain, I am sure that this is a problem that will be consigned to history. It will become worthwhile for Chinese manufacturers to pay native English speakers or professional translaters to write their English language documentation and labels, rather than rely on cheap but inaccurate computer software.

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