Mobile menu

Red face in Red China: A translator's error sends currency markets reeling
Thread poster: Jack Doughty

Jack Doughty  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:04
Member (2000)
Russian to English
+ ...
May 13, 2005

(Not sure if this is the right forum, but I thought it was worth putting somewhere)

From The Daily Telegraph, 13th May.

A translator's error sends currency markets reeling

By Richard Spencer in Beijing (Filed: 13/05/2005)

Communist China may have moved confidently into the bright new dawn of capitalism, but some of its more venerable institutions are finding it hard to keep up.

People's Daily, the official Party newspaper still scoured by China-watchers for hints as to the leadership's thinking, was writhing with embarrassment yesterday after a mistranslation led to chaos on the world's currency markets.
A report on its English-language website saying the government would revalue its currency, the yuan, next week was flashed by news agencies to exchanges in Hong Kong, London and New York.
The dollar sank, the yen rose, and even the Indian rupee rallied, and it seemed as if the Chinese government had finally given in to calls from American politicians to allow the yuan to float higher.
Eventually, late on Wednesday, the People's Bank of China had to issue an urgent denial that any such move had been announced.
Yesterday, attention focused on a man named only as Han, a retired People's Daily editor who supplements his pension translating articles into English for the website. This is a new venture supposed to show the paper is moving with the times.
"We have never had an accident like this before," said one editor there. "The management are considering whether Mr Han should be punished, but they don't know what to do as they have never encountered anything like this before."
The article translated by Mr Han was all the more believable because of its precision, even if the English was a little garbled. It said the yuan would be allowed to rise by 1.26 pc within a month and 6.03 pc in a year.
It was picked up by the Bloomberg newswire, and seen on traders' screens across the world. But some in Shanghai, at least, conscious that even the new-look Communist Party has a greater sense of occasion than this, smelled a rat.
The puzzlement expressed by desk officers at the People's Bank was quickly followed up by a little bit of digging. This showed the original article was a Chinese-language piece from the Hong Kong bureau of the China News Service, a semi-official agency, laying out a variety of analysts' views.
When Mr Han was sent the article, he appeared not to understand it fully - and in any case, left out the attribution to researchers.
The error is a remarkable insight among other things into the changing face of the media, which remains state-owned but is now encouraged to make a profit.
The People's Daily, whose print edition is still a heavyweight, not to say unreadable, compendium of Party leaders' meetings and speeches, is not excluded.
The website is a livelier attempt to attract advertising, but like many of its competitors often relies on plagiarism and quick "turnarounds" of other newspapers' work.

[Edited at 2005-05-13 16:23]


Direct link Reply with quote
 
Lindsay Sabadosa  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 15:04
Member (2004)
Italian to English
+ ...
Another example... May 13, 2005

Of why translators should translate into their own language...

Direct link Reply with quote
 
Rosa Maria Duenas Rios  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:04
and... May 13, 2005

LSabadosa wrote:

Of why translators should translate into their own language...


... another example of why proofreaders are needed, and of why translators should buy insurance whenever availiable!


Direct link Reply with quote
 
Robert Zawadzki  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:04
English to Polish
+ ...
Well, strange kind of error. May 14, 2005

The article translated by Mr Han was all the more believable because of its precision, even if the English was a little garbled. It said the yuan would be allowed to rise by 1.26 pc within a month and 6.03 pc in a year.


I do not believe it was a mistake. Maybe the Chinese wanted to know what happens, when they spread rumours like these. I believe everything put on the Web in circumtances like described above is triple-checked by secret police and some communist party moguls.

As for insurance: in communist countries there is usually one insurance company owned by the state. The translator can be declared a traitor and us such he will not be entitled to payout. And even if they paid the guy, what use is money in a labor camp or a grave? The communist "justice" is quite harsh: they may execute anyone, even if it was not his error really.


Direct link Reply with quote
 
Lindsay Sabadosa  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 15:04
Member (2004)
Italian to English
+ ...
Good point... May 14, 2005

Robert Zawadzki wrote:

I do not believe it was a mistake. Maybe the Chinese wanted to know what happens, when they spread rumours like these. I believe everything put on the Web in circumtances like described above is triple-checked by secret police and some communist party moguls.

As for insurance: in communist countries there is usually one insurance company owned by the state. The translator can be declared a traitor and us such he will not be entitled to payout. And even if they paid the guy, what use is money in a labor camp or a grave? The communist "justice" is quite harsh: they may execute anyone, even if it was not his error really.





Good points. I had a year of controlled internet, messages/letters that would maybe arrive (or maybe not), and the "China Daily" "newspaper" when I worked at Nanjing. I don't think much happens on that level without everyone knowing about it. I remember the rather unlikely "criminals" arrested in Guangdong after a bomb when off at Beijing University... Point is, it's always easy to find a scrapegoat...


Direct link Reply with quote
 


To report site rules violations or get help, contact a site moderator:


You can also contact site staff by submitting a support request »

Red face in Red China: A translator's error sends currency markets reeling

Advanced search


Translation news





LSP.expert
You’re a freelance translator? LSP.expert helps you manage your daily translation jobs. It’s easy, fast and secure.

How about you start tracking translation jobs and sending invoices in minutes? You can also manage your clients and generate reports about your business activities. So you always keep a clear view on your planning, AND you get a free 30 day trial period!

More info »
Across v6.3
Translation Toolkit and Sales Potential under One Roof

Apart from features that enable you to translate more efficiently, the new Across Translator Edition v6.3 comprises your crossMarket membership. The new online network for Across users assists you in exploring new sales potential and generating revenue.

More info »



All of ProZ.com
  • All of ProZ.com
  • Term search
  • Jobs