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english translation work

alienated translator

Consider this a front-line ethnographic report on translator-original text producer split of a phenomenon that also occurs in the programming front with i18n’s

when you step down from the MTA bus, you can see at the exit a sign that reads

Wait for green light, then step down

and also right below it

Espere por la luz verde antes de pisar abajo

Which is translated wrong. It should say “antes de bajarse” (“before getting out of the bus”, not “bejore standing under” – under what?). This problem, though, is way too easy to spot, and it’s unlikely that this glitch is the translator’s fault (such as the other more common ad mistakes which employ the wrong verb conjugation or an inconsistent usted/tu word play).

Most likely MTA had hired a single interpreter to do jobs in a batch process to save costs, and the translator was isolated from the actual material setting where the interaction betwen sign and reader was taking place – thus was completely unaware of what “stepping down” implied. (It’s fairly obvious once you see the actual stairs that lead you to the back door of the bus, but not if the translator is sitting at the office typing in a Word document at 11pm)

Some bureaucrats will never comprehend this, however.

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