Off topic: Translation error plays a crucial role in last week's The Good Wife plot
Thread poster: LEXpert

LEXpert  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:56
Member (2008)
Croatian to English
+ ...
Apr 19, 2011

It was nice to see translation finally getting its due in last week's episode of "The Good Wife", in which a mistranslation of a Spanish legal document played a pivotal role for a plaintiff's legal strategy. So often translation and interpreting are ignored on TV or in movies (presumably not dramatic or glamorous enough), or portrayed with a gross lack of realism (my personal pet peeve - the fact that interpreters and their clients are almost always portrayed as speaking in the third person - e.g., "tell him that..." "she said that...", when it never operates that way in practice.)

Still, there was one concession to dramatic license: the error was uncovered by none other than the plucky bilingual intern, who in this instance was actually - correct. As we know all to well, self-appointed, otherwise uninvolved end-client revisers usually end up adding errors rather than than uncovering them.icon_wink.gif

[Edited at 2011-04-19 01:31 GMT]


Rossana Triaca  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:56
Member (2002)
English to Spanish
Awful episode... Apr 19, 2011

I hated the episode and I'd much rather they skipped translation issues if they are going to do such a mess of things!

For starters I've never seen a translated contract that doesn't include a clause stating that in case of any inconsistencies or ambiguities they will be resolved by reference to the contract in the original language. Even if such a clause was missing in a multi-million dollar deal (disclaimer: I don't do legal translations; perhaps this scenario is not likely but possible?), even then the mistranslation they chose was ludicrous.

Apparently, "exit strategy" was translated in Spanish as "estrategia de éxito" ("success strategy") because obviously "exit" and "éxito" look alike... this is ridiculous; even if the translator had the intellectual prowess of a garden slug on codeine, I refuse to believe he/she would completely ignore the context of the entire passage. Plus, "exit" is used a lot in Spanish with the same English meaning... guess what all the emergency exit lights used in theaters around here have written on them? Somehow, a lot of signs make their way down here untranslated and people understand them all right.

To make matters worse, not only is the bilingual intern the one that spots the mistake as you say, but the same intern also doubles as an impromptu interpreter (to an unconvincing Hugo Chavez none the less!) with such a blinding delivery speed that would put to shame an experienced professional... did I mention she has lived in the USA since she was 2, attended college to study Economics and works as a stock trader? In short, she learnt Spanish at home because her parents are immigrants, but she has no formal training in the language... sigh...

Thank you for letting me vent... I really like the series, but last week's episode really got to me!

[Edited at 2011-04-19 05:46 GMT]


Aleksandar Gasic
Local time: 16:56
English to Serbo-Croat
+ ...
how about dogs and buts... Apr 26, 2011

I recently saw a movie where part of the plot was based on pero vs perro "misunderstanding". A guy from New York managed to insult some gangsta by calling his mother a dog. That was the second time I came across that in movies, and both times I spent the rest of the movie thinking about a viable situation where one could actually mistake those two words. I did not come up with any. I realize the pronunciation is different, but...


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