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Off topic: City of Ottawa mangles Arabic on pot poster
Thread poster: PB Trans
PB Trans

Local time: 08:15
French to English
+ ...
Jun 1, 2006

City of Ottawa mangles Arabic on pot poster
30/05/2006

The City of Ottawa is scrambling to fix thousands of posters it put up warning people in five languages not to drive after smoking pot.

The problem? The Arabic translation of the advertising campaign's key slogan is incomprehensible, according to those who speak the language. ''I think no Arabic speaker would understand what it does mean. The first time, I thought it wasn't Arabic.'-Ottawa resident Nasreddine Ben Ali'

Complete article here:

http://tinyurl.com/lq92k




[Edited at 2006-06-01 09:09]


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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 03:15
English to French
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I am sure the intention was good May 31, 2006

The proof is that they have already removed the billboards - and are now pondering whether it is wise to spend some hard-earned taxpayers money to replace them with a corrected version.

I don't think the city should be held accountable for this. In fact, I think the agency who took on this job is the one to blame. This looks a lot like a DTP error. Often, the graphic artist who finishes the job - sometimes months after receiving the final translation - does not speak the language of the document. In this particular case, not many of us can say that we speak all og the languages on this billboard, as there were five of them.

I have had to work with graphic artists before as a team. I was translating and the graphic artist was doing the DTP to produce beautiful, colourful documents. However, as the artists did not know French - and was not required to as she was only doing the visual job - she did not understand that before most punctuation marks, she had to insert "insecable" spaces, that English quotation marks cannot be used in French, etc. We always turned in quality documents - but it always took longer than a regular job of the same type, and I had to go through several rounds of proofing to correct those language-specific errors. I think this is why our documents were so good: they were thoroughly proofed by people whose native language they were translated into.

This seems to be the mistake done by the agency who did the Ottawa job. How much would it have costed to proof a five-word sentence? I don't know... But in this case, the ridiculous cost of it turns out to be priceless to the city!


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xxxsarahl
Local time: 00:15
English to French
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I wish you had a picture! Jun 1, 2006

And Nina, by the way, you may have to remove a part of this article, I think there's a copyright issue. If I remember it well, you can quote a part of an article then give the URL but pasting the whole thing is copyright infringement.

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Piotr Jańczuk  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 09:15
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i think you can see it here Jun 1, 2006

I wish you had a picture!

http://www.cbc.ca/ottawa/story/ot-arabic20060530.html


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PB Trans

Local time: 08:15
French to English
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TOPIC STARTER
Thanks! Jun 1, 2006

sarahl wrote:

And Nina, by the way, you may have to remove a part of this article, I think there's a copyright issue. If I remember it well, you can quote a part of an article then give the URL but pasting the whole thing is copyright infringement.


Thanks, sarahl. I have edited my post.


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PB Trans

Local time: 08:15
French to English
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TOPIC STARTER
As for the picture... Jun 1, 2006

Here is the poster. I can't read Arabic (apart from recognizing my own name) so I don't know if this is the correct version (although the article states it has been fixed on the website). Scroll to the very bottom.

http://www.ottawa.ca/residents/health/living/ad_youth/poster_en.pdf

Here's the website. Scroll to the bottom.
http://www.ottawa.ca/residents/health/living/ad_youth/drive_high_en.html

It would be interesting to know others' opinions about the translations in the other languages.



[Edited at 2006-06-01 05:31]


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p_b
Local time: 09:15
English to German
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scrambled indeed Jun 1, 2006

Hi,

I translate Arabic-German, so I feel able to throw in my tuppen'orth:

the pdf-document in Pina's link has been corrected, the (corrupted) original as given by Piotr's link indeed is showing a quite distorted Arabic text:
a) word order is left to right (instead of right to left)
b) the letters of its first word are left to right, those of the 2nd and 3rd are right to left
c) the letters are used in their isolated form only (not in the obligatory form of linking them)

Furthermore, the text just says: Don't risk your life, more literally: Don't put your life to risk.

HTH

Greetings,
Peter


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John Colangelo  Identity Verified
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Local time: 10:15
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لا تخاطر بحياتك Jun 1, 2006

Piotr Jańczuk wrote:

I wish you had a picture!

http://www.cbc.ca/ottawa/story/ot-arabic20060530.html


This would be a good question in an Arabic exam. Reorder the letters to make a proper sentence.


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xxxOlaf
Local time: 09:15
English to German
That would be an easy exam Jun 1, 2006

John Colangelo wrote:

This would be a good question in an Arabic exam. Reorder the letters to make a proper sentence.


Actually the letters are already almost in the correct order.
It's just that the three words are displayed in the same order as the English text. I.e. from left to right and that the letters in the words are not properly joined.

Sure it's wrong, but all Arabic speakers with minimal crossword puzzly skills could figure this out.

Probably the DTP software used couldn't handle right to left languages. And the DTP person probably thought it was supposed to look like this.

Olaf

[Edited at 2006-06-01 17:38]


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xxxsarahl
Local time: 00:15
English to French
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Hilarious! Jun 1, 2006

My first impression was this was probably Farsi.

But the text doesn't mention pot at all! It could be a campaign against driving cars. I half expect another poster advertizing riding bikes or walking.


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John Colangelo  Identity Verified
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Local time: 10:15
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Hi Olaf ... Jun 2, 2006

Olaf wrote:

John Colangelo wrote:

This would be a good question in an Arabic exam. Reorder the letters to make a proper sentence.


Actually the letters are already almost in the correct order.
It's just that the three words are displayed in the same order as the English text. I.e. from left to right and that the letters in the words are not properly joined.

Sure it's wrong, but all Arabic speakers with minimal crossword puzzly skills could figure this out.

Probably the DTP software used couldn't handle right to left languages. And the DTP person probably thought it was supposed to look like this.

Olaf

[Edited at 2006-06-01 17:38]


But when I said Arabic exam, I meant for foreigners who are studying it. But you would be surprised how much of their own language Arabs themselves ignore ...


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Ben Gaia MA
New Zealand
Local time: 19:15
French to English
Stoned Jun 6, 2006

Pina Nunes wrote:

It would be interesting to know others' opinions about the translations in the other languages.



[Edited at 2006-06-01 05:31]


I don't find the French text convincing either, "Conduis pas stoned" would be more "street", non? Who would say "en étant high"? Who says "high" in English since 1973 for that matter?


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NancyLynn
Canada
Local time: 03:15
Member (2002)
French to English
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Moderator of this forum
Gelé Jun 6, 2006

I was dismayed to see they used "high" in quotation marks for the French.

I grew up in Ottawa and never heard, not once, not in high school, not at University, not in 14 years tending bar in Hull, never did I hear someone use the word "high" in French. It makes no sense. We don't even have the "h" sound required to pronounce the word.



Nancy

[Edited at 2006-06-06 19:33]


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miking
Chinese to English
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i think this is the correct answer Jun 7, 2006

Olaf wrote:

Probably the DTP software used couldn't handle right to left languages. And the DTP person probably thought it was supposed to look like this.



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City of Ottawa mangles Arabic on pot poster

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