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Another dangerously wrong translation
Thread poster: Eleftherios Kritikakis

Eleftherios Kritikakis  Identity Verified
United States
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Sep 26, 2009

Wikipedia. Definition of "Cartel":
A cartel is a formal (explicit) agreement among firms. It is a formal organization of producers that agree to coordinate prices and production.

The Greek translation of this (same page in Wikipedia) reads:

A cartel is the cooperation of some persons or companies (usually producers) with the purpose of unethically manipulating the markets for the benefit of the cartel’s members.

Typically wrong interpretation and an absolutely horrible translation. To make things worse, many Greek websites use the erroneous definition of the Greek version of Wikipedia as Reference.

The errors in the Greek version of Wikipedia due to irresponsible translators and writers who incorporate their own false opinions in the definitions could fill volumes. I wouldn't be surprised if at the end the entire country won't know what they' re talking about if they keep referencing such sources.


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Pablo Bouvier  Identity Verified
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Another dangerously wrong translation Sep 26, 2009

Eleftherios Kritikakis wrote:


Wikipedia. Definition of "Cartel":
A cartel is a formal (explicit) agreement among firms. It is a formal organization of producers that agree to coordinate prices and production.

The Greek translation of this (same page in Wikipedia) reads:

A cartel is the cooperation of some persons or companies (usually producers) with the purpose of unethically manipulating the markets for the benefit of the cartel’s members.

Typically wrong interpretation and an absolutely horrible translation. To make things worse, many Greek websites use the erroneous definition of the Greek version of Wikipedia as Reference.

The errors in the Greek version of Wikipedia due to irresponsible translators and writers who incorporate their own false opinions in the definitions could fill volumes. I wouldn't be surprised if at the end the entire country won't know what they' re talking about if they keep referencing such sources.



I do not kow greek. But, the english definition in Wikpipedia may drive us into erroneous or at least skewed concepts. One of the "spanish definitions" of cartel ( http://buscon.rae.es/draeI/SrvltGUIBusUsual?TIPO_HTML=2&TIPO_BUS=3&LEMA=cartel ), between many others: Illicit organization linked to the drugs or weapon traffic... (see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medellín_Cartel


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Clarisa Moraña  Identity Verified
Argentina
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Both meanings seem to be right Sep 26, 2009

Eleftherious

In Spanish, the first definition given by the Real Academia is similar to the Greek one:

(Del al. Kartell).

1. m. Organización ilícita vinculada al tráfico de drogas o de armas.

Nevertheless, the second one, is similar to the English one:

2. m. Econ. Convenio entre varias empresas similares para evitar la mutua competencia y regular la producción, venta y precios en determinado campo industrial.

While I do not know the meaning of the original German word, it seems that both meanings are widespread around the world.

Kind regards

Clarisa


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Maria Tsang  Identity Verified
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not a translation Sep 26, 2009

Wikipedia articles are not translations of english articles. If you dont't like a definition, you can contribute to make it better.

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Laurent KRAULAND  Identity Verified
France
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Knowing the source... Sep 26, 2009

It would be interesting to know the source of such definitions - and specifically, in this case, where the Greek definition (let's forget about "translation") was taken from. But Eleftherios is right: a formal (explicit) agreement among firms is not necessarily unethically manipulating the markets. And it misses the whole point as per the classic difference between morals and laws.

[Edited at 2009-09-26 19:41 GMT]


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FarkasAndras
Local time: 19:08
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translation or not, unethical or not, definition or not Sep 26, 2009

Maria Tsang wrote:

Wikipedia articles are not translations of english articles. If you dont't like a definition, you can contribute to make it better.

Indeed. Some articles are translations in part or entirely, I'm sure, but this particular one clearly isn't a translation.

We can debate whether cartels are ethical or not... It's a strong statement for sure... The author should have probably written that many consider the practice unethical and it is illegal in most (all?) developed countries. Using that in a definition... again, that's pushing it.


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Eleftherios Kritikakis  Identity Verified
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Different meaning depending on the country? Sep 26, 2009

The word "cartel" as used in Greece today is simply "cartel" (pronounced exactly as the English word, since the English word is used).

Therefore, we' re talking about the same thing. How can something be perfectly legal according to its US definition and illegal according to the Greek definition?
(the word in the Greek text for "unethical" - αθέμιτο is a word characterizing illegal behavior in Greece which is punishable by law).

The risk is that a young translator may use such "definitions" to complete a legal translation, thus characterizing a party of a trial as "illegal" or "unethical" without his knowledge!

"If you dont't like a definition, you can contribute to make it better."

It would be humanly impossible to hire serious professionals from all fields to correct all the errors in Wikipedia, for free, and it seems that wikipedia is at this point a websource in which all the Nintendo kids are expressing their personal opinions and then they call it an "encyclopedia".

How can I trust a website in which I, not a physician by far, can actually post something about heart surgery?

Maybe Wikipedia is, at the end, the biggest nail on the coffin of Good Standards.

Where's the world going?


PS1. As far as the definition of the specific word "cartel", the fact that the media give it a bad connotation in their dramatic reports on TV and other cheap entertainment devices, does not mean that we have to change the definition of words in different countries.

PS2. We, as translators, should Bring the World Together Through Accurate Interpretation, not confuse everybody with opposite defintions depending on the country and make things even worse than they were before.

Fair enough?




[Edited at 2009-09-26 19:47 GMT]


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FarkasAndras
Local time: 19:08
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Doing your research... Sep 26, 2009

Eleftherios Kritikakis wrote:

The word "cartel" as used in Greece today is simply "cartel" (pronounced exactly as the English word, since the English word is used).

Therefore, we' re talking about the same thing. How can something be perfectly legal according to its US definition and illegal according to the Greek definition?
(the word in the Greek text for "unethical" - αθέμιτο is a word characterizing illegal behavior in Greece which is punishable by law).

The risk is that a young translator may use such "definitions" to complete a legal translation, thus characterizing a party of a trial as "illegal" or "unethical" without his knowledge!

"If you dont't like a definition, you can contribute to make it better."

It would be humanly impossible to hire serious professionals from all fields to correct all the errors in Wikipedia, for free, and it seems that wikipedia is at this point a websource in which all the Nintendo kids are expressing their personal opinions and then they call it an "encyclopedia".

How can I trust a website in which I, not a physician by far, can actually post something about heart surgery?

Maybe Wikipedia is, at the end, the biggest nail on the coffin of Good Standards.

Where's the world going?


PS1. As far as the definition of the specific word "cartel", the fact that the media give it a bad connotation in their dramatic reports on TV and other cheap entertainment devices, does not mean that we have to change the definition of words in different countries.

PS2. We, as translators, should Bring the World Together Through Accurate Interpretation, not confuse everybody with opposite defintions depending on the country and make things even worse than they were before.

Fair enough?

How did you come to the rather original conclusion that cartels are legal? As far as I know, they are about as legal as armed robbery. The article you cite says "Competition laws forbid cartels." If the Greek article says that cartels are illegal (very different concept from unethical), then it's mostly right, I'd say.
Cartels are illegal in Greece, and the target audience of a Greek Wiki article is Greece so the author doesn't commit that grave an error by referring to the Greek legal situation - which happens to match the laws that apply in most or all of the civilized world.
http://www.reuters.com/article/rbssFoodProcessing/idUSLV42103320090331

As to the general quality of Wikipedia, I appreciate your anecdotal (and very questionable) evidence, but I prefer to trust Nature magazine instead.
They found that Wikipedia is almost as reliable as the Encyclopaedia Britannica, which to me is a very respectable result for Wikipedia. http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v438/n7070/full/438900a.html

Of course Britannica was understandably upset but their complaints about the article don't really hold any water. They just made themselves look even worse by throwing a fit about the result.

[Edited at 2009-09-26 20:36 GMT]


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Laurent KRAULAND  Identity Verified
France
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Two problems I see Sep 26, 2009

Eleftherios Kritikakis wrote:
PS1. As far as the definition of the specific word "cartel", the fact that the media give it a bad connotation in their dramatic reports on TV and other cheap entertainment devices, does not mean that we have to change the definition of words in different countries.

PS2. We, as translators, should Bring the World Together Through Accurate Interpretation, not confuse everybody with opposite defintions depending on the country and make things even worse than they were before.

Fair enough?


This would mean that in Wikipedia:

1) There should be a generic definition of each notion plus a country-specific definition (in this case, a legal one) marked as such;

2) Wikipedia could not rely anymore on that -more or less unacknowledged- crowdsourcing it currently uses and could therefore become a resource subject to payment (rather than asking for donations).


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Thomas Pfann  Identity Verified
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Cannot see the difference between the English and the Greek definition Sep 26, 2009

Eleftherios Kritikakis wrote:
How can something be perfectly legal according to its US definition and illegal according to the Greek definition?
(the word in the Greek text for "unethical" - αθέμιτο is a word characterizing illegal behavior in Greece which is punishable by law).


But cartels are illegal and the English Wikipedia article does in fact say so in the first paragraph ("Competition laws forbid cartels."). So the definitions in the English and the Greek Wikipedia articles say in fact pretty much the same. Also, the term "unethical" is indeed widely used in this context, because a reason why cartels are illegal in most countries is that they are considered "unethical".

So while I don't see your point on this specific example, I do agree with you on the general point about relying too much on sources such as Wikipedia:

Of course, you cannot believe everything you read in Wikipedia (or anywhere else for that matter). But I am sure that most translators (just as everyone else with a bit of common sense) are well aware of this. You need to know where the information comes from and act accordingly. Ie. in this case you know how Wikipedia works, that all the information is put together and written by users who are not necessarily experts. So you know that if in doubt you should take it with a pinch of salt and verify the information in other, more reliable, sources.

But that is just the same with all sources of information, isn't it? Even with old-fashioned dictionaries or encyclopedias in your bookshelf – there are some where you can be sure of their reliability and accuracy, and there are others which you might not trust that much and where you know that you should double-check certain details.

Wikipedia is a great thing – but you need to know how it works and you must not forget to use your own head (and your own judgement).


[Edited at 2009-09-26 21:01 GMT]


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KSL Berlin  Identity Verified
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No good solution Sep 26, 2009

Thomas, while anti-trust laws may forbid cartels in certain countries or situations, cartels in general are not illegal nor even unethical in the view of many. Take OPEC, for example, which Wikipedia (and any other source I care to look up) will define as a cartel.

But Eleftherios, don't expect any reasonable consistency or fairness from any medium. It wasn't to be had in our great-grandfathers' day or even well before. I'm sure that Samuel Johnson's definition of oats with its rather interesting reference to the Scots was merely following a tradition of many thousands of years of controlling the discussion by making definitions to suit one's agenda.

I don't know about the Greek content on Wikipedia, but many articles I look at in German and English are clearly developed independent of one another, and as far as I can tell there is no translator to blame for the differences. And due to the croudsourced editing of such texts, you might in fact have been dealing with a good translation (check the history) perverted by subsequent edits.

I'll agree that the world would be a better, safer place if we all would stick to reliable, official sources of information like the CIA Fact Book or Pravda. But I don't see an enforcement mechanism for that becoming practical anytime soon.


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Gianni Pastore  Identity Verified
Italy
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Not in mine Sep 26, 2009

Kevin Lossner wrote:

Thomas, while anti-trust laws may forbid cartels in certain countries or situations, cartels in general are not illegal nor even unethical in the view of many.


Any market is regulated by supply and demand. Prices go down if there is no demand or too much supply, or they go up if the opposite happens. By agreeing in advance a certain price range and sticking strictly to that, the cartel simply forces those who are looking for a service to pay a price which is, de facto, not corresponding to its effective value. Since this is (in my opinion) a limitation of freedom, it should be consider illegal.


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Luca Tutino  Identity Verified
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I like this thread Sep 26, 2009

Luckily enough the Italian article on Wikipedia, even if only a stub and lacking of references, shows a critical approach and looks even more informative than the English one. Not expecting much, I am often surprised by the good quality material on wikipedia.

Ability to weight, compare and lend the right authority to your sources is probably becoming more important today than it was when I grew up. Then, the first task was understanding where you could find the right sources, today finding them is not a problem - but one must have a more refined critical approach, one that at the time was mostly confined to the academy.

Taking this to the extremes, one might say that in the age of internet information knowledge is becoming less important: ignorance is not anymore about missing the information, but rather not beeing able to evaluate the information available.


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Anna Sylvia Villegas Carvallo
Mexico
Local time: 12:08
English to Spanish
"Cartel" = "Coalition" Sep 27, 2009

Either legal or illegal, ethical or unethical, it's just a coalition of several parties.

Examples:

The OPEC cartel. (Legal.)
The Gulf cartel. (Illegal.)



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Eleftherios Kritikakis  Identity Verified
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"Coloring" a document on the basis of erroneous definitions Sep 27, 2009

Personally I agree with Kevin and Tadzio.

Cartels are not illegal by definition.

My point was though that I have seen many translations actually based on "definitions" found in Wikipedia, which are, many times, not official definitions, but just descriptions by a specific writer.

I have to also add here that Greece is a country in which official definitions fall short, while personal opinions and general aphorisms rule, especially in politics (in Greece politics are run almost purely by emotion), and most of all, in law and economics (the most chaotic "definitions", perceptions, interpretations). It is a country in which the most crazy conspiracy theories become political/religious/academic arguments. Coffee-shop talk...

My general recommendation: In order to avoid confusion with clients, with well-informed translators, with project managers, and probably with courts, please please please double-check the "personal and general descriptions" you find in sources such as Wikipedia.

How would you feel if you find a source in which the U.S. English says "Fashion: A combination of articles/items etc etc" and on the same page you click on the link of another country and you read "Fashion: an instrument of the devil"...

A translator who will rely on the Greek Wikipedia term of Cartel, will give a different "color" to the entire document, assuming that Cartels are illegal. Wouldn't that make an alteration of many paragraphs necessary?

Now I'll give you real life examples:

a) Six years ago in Chicago, a fellow translator did not know that "consideration" in financial/legal transactions means money or exchange of valuable items and he translated an entire divorce case with the assumption that "consideration" meant "emotional consideration, thoughtfulness". Needless to say, when they send me the documents, I had to re-write almost half of it, because half of the document was steering away from the monetary transactions, the overall "character" of the document was based purely on "emotional" consideration. Some of the paragraphs were actually comical.

b) The Masons (or Freemasons) in the United States, were basically a club (if you strip it down to nuts and bolts). Famous freemasons were some of the founding fathers of the United States, scientific minds and Christians at the same time. However, in Greece, the general perception was always that masons are a "satanic cult"!

c) Third example: The word "cult" has a negative connotation in the U.S. In Greece, not at all (quite positive lately, mostly associated with fashionable trends), while on the other hand in the United States it is associated with "weird phychos" pretty much...
But neither opinion is an actual correct definition. These are just opinions.

Now, imagine what will happen when a translator describes OPEC (a very legal and very powerful cartel) while having in mind the Wikipedia definition... if he/she stretches it just a bit further, we' re talking about a diplomatic episode.


Again, we' re supposed to be a bridge between cultures, and not a source of dangerous misunderstandings.









[Edited at 2009-09-27 04:08 GMT]


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