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In translation – small mistakes, BIG PROBLEMS

Small mistakes lead to big problems in translation, and that seems to be a very good reason why it took Saint Jerome 15 years to translate the Bible. At that time, he had already figured out that translating goes beyond the simple conversion of words from one language to another and expressed the need to convey not only the meaning of the words but also grasp their sense and the feeling contained within the text. “Even the order of the words is a mystery and for this reason, we need to touch its heart”, he said. The lack of sensibility and doubts about the meaning of a single word has already generated misunderstandings of international proportions. I chose some examples that illustrate what I’m saying.

Concerning to the “match” played by man versus machine, the Norwegian delegation, during the Winter Olympic Games in 2018, was defeated. After using machine translation services to translate the grocery list for the products to be used for the meals of athletes and the coaching staff, they ended up getting a loading of 15000 eggs instead of 1500 referred on the original list. The fact was reported by the press and became a joke. Fortunately, the Norwegian delegation managed to return the excess 13500 eggs, but this kind of situation could be avoided if the translation had been delegated to a professional.


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