Posted by: sbilingual | May 25, 2010

Poor translation spoils Mexican president’s speech at White House

Mexican PresidentIt’s a sad day when an international presidential address, lauded for its poignancy and timely comments, is rendered unintelligible by an interpreter. This is what happened last week when Mexican president Felipe Calderon visited the White House and intended to express his disapproval of Arizona’s new immigration law.

The translation was so bad that the White House chose to ignore the official transcript provided. The Mexican delegate blamed their own translator.

For example, here’s how Calderon’s comments on the tough new immigration law in Arizona were rendered by his translator during the opening ceremony:

“We can do so with a community that will promote a dignified life and an orderly way for both our countries, who are, some of them, still living here in the shadows with such laws as the Arizona law that is placing our people to face discrimination.”

And here’s how those same comments appeared in the official transcript issued later Wednesday:

“I know that we share the interest in promoting dignified, legal and orderly living conditions to all migrant workers. Many of them, despite their significant contribution to the economy and to the society of the United States, still live in the shadows and, occasionally, as in Arizona, they even face discrimination.”

It seemed most unfortunate that the poor interpretation should happen just when the U.S. and Mexico are attempting to strengthen their neighborly ties to work together on controversial issues like immigration reform and drug trafficking.

Read the full story here in the Washington Post.


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