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guinea pig

English translation: treating it like an experimental guinea pig

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14:13 Jul 9, 2008
English to English translations [PRO]
Art/Literary - General / Conversation / Greetings / Letters
English term or phrase: guinea pig
I'm translating an article into English. At some point, it talks about a state-owned rail company that was used by the government as a guinea pig of some kind.

Here's the first draft:

"The total abandonment of XXX and [its being treated like a guinea pig] by previous governments, have turned the organization today into a time bomb that threatens the fiscal policy of the government."

I'm not terribly happy with it. Any ideas, synonyms, solutions, proposals would be welcome.
xxxd_vachliot
Local time: 01:41
English translation:treating it like an experimental guinea pig
Explanation:
Also: "treating it like an experimental rat"

I think that you should keep the analogy as it gives more meaning than just "experimental". Often experimental animals are considered worthless and treated in a cruel manner, thus there is much more to the analogy than just the issue of it being used in an experimental manner. It seems that in this context, the writer is comparing the railway to an experimental animal not only in the sense that it was subjected to experiments, but also, that it was abandoned as if it was of no value.

By totally abandoning XXX and treating it like an experimental guinea pig, previous governments have turned the organization into a time bomb...

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 1 hr (2008-07-09 15:43:35 GMT)
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Y

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 1 hr (2008-07-09 15:50:23 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

If you don't want "experimental" or "guinea pig" some other options might be:

"subjecting it to untried policies", "trial and error management", or "arbitrary decision making"
Selected response from:

Heather Shaw
United States
Local time: 00:41
Grading comment
Your other options are very helpful. Thank you very much!
4 KudoZ points were awarded for this answer

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Summary of answers provided
3 +8experiment
Dennis Seine
5 +1test subject or experiment
Sara Senft
4treating it like an experimental guinea pigHeather Shaw
4 -1scape-goat
KathyPro


Discussion entries: 2





  

Answers


6 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5 peer agreement (net): +8
experiment


Explanation:
If you feel like a change is necessary, why not just use the word 'experiment' in some sort of way?

For instance:

"The total abandonment and experimental use of XXX by previous governments, have turned the organization today into a time bomb that threatens the fiscal policy of the government."

Dennis Seine
United States
Local time: 18:41
Specializes in field
Native speaker of: Native in DutchDutch
Notes to answerer
Asker: Thank you, but experimental use is not what I'm looking for. It's too literal, I'm looking for something idiomatic. Thank you for your help.


Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Andreea Bostan: indeed
0 min
  -> Thanks a lot Andreea

agree  NancyLynn
11 mins
  -> Thank you Nancy

agree  BdiL: Bingo! and a good translation too. Maurizio
18 mins
  -> Thanks a lot Maurizio!

agree  Alp Berker
22 mins
  -> Thanks Alp!

agree  Magdalena Wysmyk
43 mins
  -> Thanks Magdalena

agree  Patricia Townshend
56 mins
  -> Thanks a lot, Patricia

agree  Demi Ebrite
3 hrs

agree  Phong Le
11 hrs
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7 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): -1
scape-goat


Explanation:
The rail company is used to take the blame for the failures of government policy

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Note added at 18 mins (2008-07-09 14:31:30 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

It should read scapegoat without the hyphen - sorry!

The total abandon of xxx and its treatment as a scapegoat by previous governments....

KathyPro
Local time: 00:41
Works in field
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
neutral  Tony M: If the meaning in Asker's context rerally is that of 'guinea-pig', then 'scapegoat' is really too far removed in meaning; though i have to say, it almost seems a more likely idea to me.
44 mins

disagree  Patricia Townshend: I think scapegoat and guinea pig are very different. Scapegoat does not imply experimentation but rather that the company is a figure for blame.
57 mins
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48 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5
treating it like an experimental guinea pig


Explanation:
Also: "treating it like an experimental rat"

I think that you should keep the analogy as it gives more meaning than just "experimental". Often experimental animals are considered worthless and treated in a cruel manner, thus there is much more to the analogy than just the issue of it being used in an experimental manner. It seems that in this context, the writer is comparing the railway to an experimental animal not only in the sense that it was subjected to experiments, but also, that it was abandoned as if it was of no value.

By totally abandoning XXX and treating it like an experimental guinea pig, previous governments have turned the organization into a time bomb...

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 1 hr (2008-07-09 15:43:35 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

Y

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 1 hr (2008-07-09 15:50:23 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

If you don't want "experimental" or "guinea pig" some other options might be:

"subjecting it to untried policies", "trial and error management", or "arbitrary decision making"

Heather Shaw
United States
Local time: 00:41
Specializes in field
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 4
Grading comment
Your other options are very helpful. Thank you very much!

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
neutral  Tony M: i don't think you need to add 'experimental', and indeed, if you do, it might be read as if it was the guinea pig itself that was only a prototype animal!
4 mins
  -> putting "experimental' in was probably a bit of overkill - but just incase the translator wanted to emphasize the experimental meaning.
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2 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 5/5 peer agreement (net): +1
test subject or experiment


Explanation:
"Guinea pig" is a common slang term for a test subject. It comes from the frequent use of animals as test subjects for human products. In this case, however, 'experiement' might make more sense because of the context.

'Scapegoat' means that a certain person is used to blame all the problems of another person.

Sara Senft
United States
Local time: 18:41
Specializes in field
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Liam Hamilton
3 hrs
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