Lost in Translation

lost in translation

Translation is fraught with dangers. Most English teachers in Spain are highly reliant upon translation in the classroom; often classes are a Spanish learning opportunity. There is a significant advantage to not using translation at all in the classroom and once you move to Asia and the Acia-Pacific region translation is not an option since most classes are multi-lingual. Avoiding translation increases the students exposure to specific chunks of language and improves the teacher and the students' communicative strategies.

It also avoids pitfalls you may never anticipate.

The above sign is from Wales. It was printed by the English-speaking local council, who are obliged to print signs in Welsh as well as English.

They requested a translation, received an email from their Welsh translator and went ahead with the printing.

Only later did some passers-by who spoke Welsh notify the council that the sign reads:

"I am not in the office at the moment. Please send any work to be translated."

Originally reported in The Guardian 1 November 2008