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(The New York Times)   Translation mishaps between Afghans and westerners would be hilarious if they weren't so tragically infuriating   ( atwar.blogs.nytimes.com) divider line
    More: Sad, Afghans  
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8094 clicks; posted to Main » on 06 Dec 2012 at 10:02 AM (5 years ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»

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2012-12-06 10:04:59 AM  
4 votes:
My hovercraft is full of IED's :(
2012-12-06 05:33:13 PM  
2 votes:

miniflea: Happy Hours: So, if you can't hire someone fluent in both languages hire 2 interpreters, one who speaks English as a first language and one who speaks Afghan as a first language. Pay them less - they're more like interpreter apprentices but they can check each other while also improving their language skills.

I'm sure mistranslations are nothing new and I often wonder how different cultures communicated when encountering each other for the first time especially when Europeans arrived in the Western Hemisphere. (Probably not very well is my guess).

Regarding how Europeans communicated with newly contacted cultures in the Americas, I recently read an account written by a soldier who was with Cortez throughout his conquest of the Aztecs, Bernal Diaz. They did two things. One, the Spaniards captured some local women and taught them english. One in particular served as both translator, ambassador and consort to Cortez. Two, the expedition found two Spaniards who had been shipwrecked (or something) years earlier and had been living among the natives, even marrying and having kids. One of them agreed to go with the expedition, the other one though escaped back to his native family as soon as he could. 

Especially amusing/heartbreaking are the parts where he described the Spaniards trying to get them to tear down their religious idols and put up crosses. He says the translators essentially said to Cortez "uh... yeah, I don't think they're going to go for that, boss". In a very few instances (trying to preserve/cement an alliance) Cortez did back down and tell his priest to cool it.

Seems unlikely
2012-12-06 10:32:49 AM  
1 vote:
i.imgur.comView Full Size
2012-12-06 10:19:55 AM  
1 vote:

Arkanaut: My hovercraft is full of IED's :(

/Operation Tiny Fist
2012-12-06 10:18:12 AM  
1 vote:
"Interpreter's translation: "Yeah, your sister. You have beautiful sister."

The Afghan, roaring: "You better stop talking about my sister!" The interpreter kept the miscommunication going, again telling the American that the official had said "system.""

The guy in this story is lucky that the interpreter didn't say "goat" instead of "sister" or there could have been real trouble.
2012-12-06 10:06:57 AM  
1 vote:
They should try talking louder and slower. That always helps.
2012-12-06 10:04:30 AM  
1 vote:
Is the NY Times the new Reader's Digest?
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