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What we “Found in Translation”

Last updated on November 1st, 2016 at 08:39 pm

What we “Found in Translation”

After reading and enjoying the book “Found in Translation” by Nataly Kelly and Jost Zetzsche, what we found was validation. Not that we ever thought our job as translators and interpreters wasn’t relevant but, hearing people talking about translation services as if anyone could do it, it is scary sometimes, mostly because these are the same people that could potentially hire us and if they think they can do it, they will, no matter the consequences.

We are not trying to say that this is a translation-specific issue, we know, for example, there are many “doctors” out there but, in the end, people value their health more than they value words on a piece of paper or a screen. There is a misconception about translation being a commodity and not a service that requires skills, knowledge, and dedication.

Going back to the book, here are some of the stories we enjoyed the most:

  1. Lifeline– What a way to kick off the book! It is a one minute horror movie. If there is one story that could summarize the relevance of our job, it is this one (and perhaps Parlez-Vous C++). Lifeline is about an interpreter who gets a call in the middle of the night after a long and tiring day of work, to interpret for a person who called an emergency line: a woman who’s about to be murdered.
  2. Flowery Words– The joy of localization at its best! A Bellagio employee gets completely lost in translation when a guest asked for orchids. Pretty simple request, right? The problem? The employee is a Turkey native and, in his native country, Orchid is the name for the sanitary napkins we know, in this side of the world, as Always. So, you can imagine the face of the guest when she received sanitary napkins instead of flowers!
  3. It’s Raining Falafel– Who doesn’t love movies and, who doesn’t love (or hate) movie translations? Those titles! Those subtitles! In this story there are a couple of good examples of translated titles:

a. Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs became Rain of Falafel for the Israel market. My question is: did it really rain falafel instead of meatballs in the movie?  I guess we’ll have to rent that one!

b. Knocked up became Slightly Pregnant in South America and Very Pregnant in Italy. But, is there such a thing as being slightly or very pregnant?

These are just some of the stories you’ll find in the book. They are all very well-written, well-researched, entertaining and most of them, very surprising. If you haven’t read it, please buy it and, if you like it, like we did, share it. We want to thank the authors for compiling these amazing stories and for sharing them with the translation community and the world. May this be the beginning of so many other books that point out the importance of translation and interpretation services day by day and in some crucial moments of life. Well done!

Jackie Ruffolo
Jackie Ruffolo
Jackie was born in Venezuela. Jackie has a BS in computer engineering; As President of JR Language, she spends time researching new technology and productivity tools for the Company. She holds a certificate of Localization and Project Management- Localization. Through her many years of experience working in multilingual corporate environments, she understands firsthand the value of bridging language barriers in creating smooth communication that allows for productive and happy work environments. She is fluent in Spanish and English, and is a frequent contributor to both our English and Spanish blogs. Jackie loves nature and to be outdoors.