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Off topic: Fire? Grab a donkey!
Thread poster: Nesrin

Nesrin  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 13:25
English to Arabic
+ ...
Nov 7, 2006

Hilarious!! I don't want to be in that translator's shoes!

House fire? Grab a donkey...

A fire safety leaflet translated from English to Urdu advises people to grab the nearest donkey when escaping from a building.

Strathclyde Fire and Rescue produced the leaflet for ethnic communities across Scotland, reports the Mirror.

The English text on the leaflet reads: "Never jump straight out of a window, lower yourself on to cushions etc."

But when translated into Urdu says: "Never jump out of a window straight. Put yourself on a donkey etc and come down."

Teacher Ilfan Malik explained: "The Urdu word for cushion is gadda. But the word for donkey is gadha.

"It appears whoever translated the leaflet has mixed the two words up or the spelling has been printed wrongly."

A Strathclyde Fire and Rescue spokesman said: "A replacement leaflet will be distributed soon."

http://www.ananova.com/news/story/sm_2068288.html


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abufaraz
Pakistan
Local time: 17:25
English to Urdu
+ ...
Ashamed Nov 7, 2006

I am so very ashamed by this 'fool' of a translator who has given such a bad name to our language Urdu and its translators by his stupid 'insight'.

This news is circling throughout the Internet news portal at this moment.


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Nesrin  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 13:25
English to Arabic
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Most likely a typo or a printing error Nov 7, 2006

aburiaz wrote:


I am so very ashamed by this 'fool' of a translator who has given such a bad name to our language Urdu and its translators by his stupid 'insight'.


I wouldn't be so upset about it. Most likely, as indicated in the article, it's a typo or a printing error. But it just makes good and funny news! The poor translator!


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Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 14:25
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
What was he doing upstairs? Nov 7, 2006

Nesrin wrote:

Put yourself on a donkey etc and come down.


Seriously, though, this reminds me of so many traditions in which donkeys have, inadvertently or not, scaled minarets and towers. Since it's almost impossible to get a donkey to turn around in a narrow space or hallway, it seems to have been a prime concern of medieval builders that a tower should have enough space to maneuver in case one of these creatures walked in.

It was said that the Giralda in Seville complied with this "modern" (in the manner of an ISO standard in its day) requirement. English-speaking learners of Spanish have delighted in the novel "La tesis de Nancy", the candid heroine of which set out to discover empirically whether this was true. She went up to a gypsy renting donkeys to tourists and asked for one. The gypsy, suspicious, inquired what she was going to use it for. So she told him. He looked at her, open-mouthed: "lady, this is a donkey, not a stork".

[Edited at 2006-11-07 21:28]


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Charlie Bavington  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:25
French to English
Rather begs the question... Nov 7, 2006

Nesrin wrote:

Put yourself on a donkey etc and come down."



... did the translator know anything whatsoever about Strathclyde? How many donkeys do they imagine that Scots keep in their upper storeys for use as a quadruped fire escape should the worst happen? Does anybody else think that the council may just have outsourced this to the Indian sub-continent to someone who has no idea where Strathclyde is, to get the job done for 3 farthings?

As for the "etc", well, that's just plain shoddy. Eny fule kno that cows can't walk downstairs. I really think they should have been a bit more specific about which domestic animals are suited to this purpose, and which are not

On the plus side, I imagine that thousands, if not millions, more people are going to be aware of this sound advice than would have been the case had there not been this error...


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Balasubramaniam L.  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 17:55
Member (2006)
English to Hindi
+ ...
It is merely a typo, though a hilarious one Nov 8, 2006

Charlie Bavington wrote:

... did the translator know anything whatsoever about Strathclyde? How many donkeys do they imagine that Scots keep in their upper storeys for use as a quadruped fire escape should the worst happen? Does anybody else think that the council may just have outsourced this to the Indian sub-continent to someone who has no idea where Strathclyde is, to get the job done for 3 farthings?



I am not trying to defend the error. But to those who know Hindi or Urdu, it is merely a typo.

It should have been clear from Nesrin's explanation of how the error crept in. The Hindi/Urdu words for cushion and donkey are very similar (gadha and gadda respectively). You can see that even in the way it is written in English, the difference is only of a letter.

In the Urdu script (of which I have no knowledge), the difference is probably only the presence or absence of a dot.

The crucial dot could have been lost in DTP or scanning, or xeroxing.

I wouldn't haul the poor translator over the coals for this. No translator in his senses would ever intentionally make such an obvious error, not even the 3 farthings translator from India.

And Charlie, although it would have made your day to have been able to use this example to let off steam on the contentious issue of outsourcing to India, your above quoted comment is clearly in bad taste, and I would have liked it if you had kept politics out of this matter.

[Edited at 2006-11-08 03:50]


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Lesley Clarke  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 07:25
Spanish to English
Balasubramaniam Nov 8, 2006

Balasubramaniam, I must defend Charlie, he is just taking the idea running, and very funnily too.

He is not saying anything about translators or nationalities, this is just a case where the mind googles.

Take care


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Ritu Bhanot  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 14:25
Member (2006)
French to Hindi
+ ...
Response to Charlie's post Nov 8, 2006

well, Charlie... you'll find native urdu speakers only in the Indian subcontinent (India, Pakistan and Bangladesh)!!! or those who have roots in these countries.

Urdu happens to be one of the official languages of India and people do study this language in Indian subcontinent. Urdu is a very sweet language. And a typo is no reason to criticize rates in India.

BTW even in India, we don't keep donkeys on the upper storeys!!!

just reminds me of a story that I read in my translation class (ethics and dangers, how careful a translator/ interpreter needs to be)... according to the author the attack on Hiroshima and Nagasaki was a result of an interpretation error. (sorry, I don't remember the name of the author, but it was a French book)

anyways, it pays to have a good translator/ interpreter!!!

right?


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xxxMarc P  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:25
German to English
+ ...
You are all mistaken Nov 8, 2006

The original text actually read:

"If dere's a fire, get your ass outta here."


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Kathryn Strachecky  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:25
French to English
Oh Marc Nov 8, 2006

Don't make me laugh so hard so early in the morning, I'm sure it's not good for my digestion!

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Charlie Bavington  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:25
French to English
Common-sense Nov 8, 2006

Balasubramaniam wrote:

I wouldn't haul the poor translator over the coals for this. No translator in his senses would ever intentionally make such an obvious error...


Quite, but surely any translator with an ounce of common-sense would realise that advising people to escape from a fire on a donkey is, er, unusual, to say the least

Hence, should the translator not have thought twice?

Or, if they were, as I said, unsure about animal husbandry in Scotland, perhaps the translator should have asked someone else (the client?) whether Strathcylde was an area in which it was likely that people keep donkeys in houses?

If the 2 words are similar, should the translator not have had an inkling that, of the 2 words, cushions was perhaps more likely?
No matter where the translator lives?


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abufaraz
Pakistan
Local time: 17:25
English to Urdu
+ ...
It is not only a dot Nov 8, 2006

Balasubramaniam wrote:


In the Urdu script (of which I have no knowledge), the difference is probably only the presence or absence of a dot.

The crucial dot could have been lost in DTP or scanning, or xeroxing.





The difference between two words is not of a dot only but of a letter ( ھ ) - pronounced as 'Hay' which that man who called himself a translator, should have easily pointed out.

While not refuting Subramaniam that the 'poor' translator should not be penalized for this omission at such a high degree , I can't deny Charlie's point about common sense which is a tool that we translators have to use very often during our work and also to do some research for the purpose of produciung a quality work.

The internet news portals are still not leaving this topic and I have received about twelve Google alerts about this news in my box until now.

I can't forgive the man who has brought so much disdain to our language throughout the world due to this carelessness.


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Giovanni Guarnieri MITI, MIL  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 13:25
Member (2004)
English to Italian
maybe not in houses in Strathclyde... Nov 8, 2006

Charlie Bavington wrote:

Or, if they were, as I said, unsure about animal husbandry in Scotland, perhaps the translator should have asked someone else (the client?) whether Strathcylde was an area in which it was likely that people keep donkeys in houses?




but there's a nice donkey sanctuary in Melrose, not that far away, with plenty of buildings (spot the window under the roof!)...


http://www.donkeyheaven.org/


Giovanni

[Edited at 2006-11-08 11:38]


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Anna Strowe
Local time: 08:25
Italian to English
Deep breath... Nov 8, 2006

Calm down, people.

Nobody thinks less of Urdu because of a printing error.

The translator probably wasn't even responsible- he probably wrote "gadda" and the (potentially non-Urdu speaking) typesetter did it wrong. Or maybe they got someone who didn't know Urdu particularly well to do it. Bad translations happen.

And this is Really Funny. It's a joke. It's an accident that turns out to be funny because of the mental images it brings up. It captures the imagination. If you search the forums I'm sure you can find a lot of these, in all different languages.

Anna


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Balasubramaniam L.  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 17:55
Member (2006)
English to Hindi
+ ...
You are assuming the translator didn't think twice Nov 9, 2006

Charlie Bavington wrote:

Quite, but surely any translator with an ounce of common-sense would realise that advising people to escape from a fire on a donkey is, er, unusual, to say the least

Hence, should the translator not have thought twice?



Hi Charlie (and also aburiaz),

You are assuming that the translator didn't think twice.

I for one cannot even believe that any translator can even unintentionally make such an error.

It is clearly a typo, and if we were to delve into the original files, I am sure that there is a 99 per cent chance that the translator had got it right and the error was introduced at some other stage.

I know enough of fonts and typography in Indian languages to know that things change, and change drastically, when one font is replaced by another. It is possible that this was done without the knowledge of the original translator, by a non-Urdu knowing person, and the error was introduced at this stage.

Also the original translation may have been submitted in a handwriten form or in pdf format which was then retyped by another person at which stage the error crept in.

I won't buy the argument that this was a translator error. I have a much higher opinion of translator intelligence for this.

The other explanation is of course what Marc has given! That the original itself contained the word "ass"! And the translator just did a literal translation of this word! But calling a cushion a donkey is so far-fetched that it cannot be possible.


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