Sunday, 9 October 2011

Lost in Translation


Westerners delight in pointing out examples of unfortunate translations into their language(s) from Arabic, Chinese etc. It can work the other way, too, as we discovered last Sunday when visiting an old friend, Colonel Bassem Halawani in his office at Mafraq Air Force Base. On his wall was a photo of a helicopter in flight. It had been presented by a French team that had worked with the RJAF and made the photo, framed it and added a brass plate, briefly commemorating the occasion. The French colleagues had written their names in roman script but had used an online translator for the date and the name of their organization. Unfortunately, knowing no Arabic, they did not realise that when they asked for the Arabic for ‘Cooperation Gendarmerie’ the software returned a message saying "We apologize for finding no search results". That went on the plate …. much to the amusement of the RJAF pilots.

-DLK

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