Translation lets Google’s "cat" out of the bag?

Read an interesting article this morning (via Lifehacker) about how it looks like Google may be readying a new version of GMail.

How did they get the “scoop”?

As most will know Google allows it’s users to assist with and polish the translations it uses throughout their platform. Recently a user was logged in and doing some translation on the GMail UI and got prompted to enter a translation for “New Version” with supporting context text that said “Link that users can click on if they are part of the trusted testers program to go to the new UI”.

Oops.

Click here to see the story/screen capture.

Eco-friendly Sex Offenders?

The Government here in Ontario make a bit of a localization-esque blunder up here the other day.

With great intentions they proudly announced a new green-coloured license plate that owners of environmentally friendly vehicles would receive. This special plate would get them free parking and allow them to use any of the new High-Occupancy vehicle lanes that are being built around the province.

It’s a great idea and I totally support it – but it’s pretty clear that they didn’t do much research before they hatched this lovely plan.

As a result, any of the recipients of these plates would be wise to stay away from Ohio, Wisconson & Alabama (or take a different car). You see in those states a whole other breed of people are given special green license plates – Sex Offenders.

Eeesh.

Awkward Moments in Interpretation

I came across this article this morning in my feed reader about the trial of Floyd Landis and his 2006 victory in the Tour de France, which has now been tarnished with his alleged testing positive for performance enhancing drugs. Because the testing was all done in France many of the lab technicians etc. who are involved in the case speak only French, so it has been necessary to have a courtroom interpreter.

From everything I know, it’s pretty safe to say Interpretation is a tough job on a good day. So, I can’t imagine just how tough it gets interpreting live in front of a courtroom where your slightest slip-up can have a big impact on someone’s life if the mistake isn’t caught. In this case bonus difficulty points are awarded for interpreting medical testimony.

Unfortunately in this case, all didn’t go as well as one would hope:

A significant part of the morning was wasted, though, when the testimony given by Belgium-born Mongongu was frequently interrupted because of an unclear translation of her replies in French.

At one point, her translator incorrectly interpreted Mongongu as saying it took one-and-a-half hours instead of one-and-a-half days to prepare an ‘A’ sample for IRMS (carbon-isotope ratio testing) analysis.

Landis’s attorney Maurice Suh intervened, asking whether there might be a better way to proceed. Lead arbitrator Patrice Brunet, who speaks fluent French, then called for a 90-minute recess so that a replacement translator could be summoned.

Yikes – I can imagine that after the first mistake it’s only something that gets worse too. Interpretation takes a lot of focus and concentration as you try and listen in one language, translate it in your head and speak the translation in the other language, so I’m guessing the added distraction of “Oh god, I hope I don’t screw up again” cycling through your head doesn’t help.

Awkward indeed.