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Courant en Español–A Follow Up

Courant en Español–A Follow Up

Bessy Reyna

By Bessy Reyna

In my July 17 Opinion Courant En Español – Have Fun, Get Angry I wrote about the translation problems I encountered when attempting to read the tab “Courant En Espanol.” in the Courant’s website.
I am glad to report that the Courant has decided to open that  tab with a “Disclaimer” in order to make readers aware that due to limitations in the Google software–which is the one used by the Courant– “some of the translations of the English headlines and articles don’t always translate accurately word-for-word into Spanish.”
While this is, by no means, a way to solve the problem, I am glad to know that the Courant is willing to acknowledge that a problem exists in their attempt to convey the news to Spanish-speaking readers, by using a less-than-accurate translator.
 After I was contacted by a representative of the Courant, we had a lengthy telephone conversation and I found out that Google provides this program for free. I still think that if the Courant wants to truly offer a product that provides information to  their Spanish-speaking readership about their community, they could at least hire someone to translate the translator.  The guessing game (trying to figure out what the Spanish translation means) is painful and time consuming.   Google recommends that each reader “improve” the translation using wiki / crowdsourcing. Thanks, but no thanks.
It would take hours to fix the many problems found in each piece. My favorite today was found in the section “Fresh Talk” (Hablar Fresco en Googlelismo) which said:
Mantener contrario Ban Gay Para lo que el Escultismo Soportes Para”.  As a direct translation this says, “To maintain contrary Ban Gay for what the Scouting the Supports  For.” (In this translation they use support as a noun and not a verb.) All those words with no connection to each other just to say “Keeping Gay Ban Contrary to What Scouting Stands For.”
Let’s hope it gets better in the future.
[Editor's note: Listen to Bessy discuss the pitfalls of translation on Monday, Aug. 6 at 1 p.m. on The Colin McEnroe show on WNPR.]
(Bessy Reyna is an opinion columnist for CTLatinoNews.com whose views do not necessarily reflect those of this website. She is a former opinion columnist for the Hartford Courant and the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Connecticut Center for the Book.)

6 Responses to Courant en Español–A Follow Up

  1. Nacho Meneses says:

    I completely agree with you. This is, by no means, a way to solve the problem. Especially in a newspaper with the quality the Courant is supposed to offer its readers. I cannot help thinking I’m a native Spanish journalist currently unemployed in Madrid…!!! :)

  2. Evelyn Mantilla says:

    I see that as of yesterday, The Courant now precedes the Spanish language section with a note indicating that the reader should not expect an accurate translation due to the limitations of the software. Conversely, they also ask the readers to contribute to the quality of the translations by suggesting the changes themselves via a Google wiki feature. I find this solution entirely inappropriate. A computer program is not sufficient excuse and putting the responsibility on the reader is a cop-out.

  3. [...] CTLatino.com | Hartford Courant | Poynter.org Robert Downs reported Thursday about newspapers providing Spanish-language training for their employees. Clicking on the words “Courant en Español” on the Hartford Courant’s website, though, opens a portal on a… Read more Share this: Tweet this! [...]

  4. [...] who wrote a follow-up  CTLatinoNews.com opinion piece, also said, “I still think that if the Courant wants to truly offer a product that provides [...]

  5. [...] Bessy Reyna of ctlatinonews.com thinks this is a problem. “I still think that if the Courant wants to truly offer a product that provides information to their Spanish-speaking readership about their community, they could at least hire someone to translate the translator. The guessing game (trying to figure out what the Spanish translation means) is painful and time consuming. Google recommends that each reader “improve” the translation using wiki / crowdsourcing. Thanks, but no thanks. It would take hours to fix the many problems found in each piece.” [...]

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