Lost in the Editing

Are you as bored as I am with these stupid “lost in translation” stories that appear in the media? Every time a story appears concerning some translation or interpretation issue, however vague, the headline always manages to somehow include the phrase “lost in translation.” Here’s the latest: “Rogue driver Prawo is lost in translation.”

Why is this phrase popular? This is why.

The story itself reflects badly on the Irish police, and gives life to the claim by Irish author, poet, playwright, freedom fighter, and er, well-rounded Guinness drinker, Brendan Behan that the only foreign language the police force knew was “Garda“:

The Polish term for driving licence, “Prawo Jazdy”, has been taken down in error by members of the traffic corps as the actual identity of the motorists they stopped.

Other “lost in translation” stories are here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and …

Ironically, if the phrase itself was to be easily translatable, it should have the article included: “Lost in the translation.”

Of course, I’ve used this tiresome phrase myself, even though I thought the movie was mediocre at best. I was being lazy. Come on media people, at least pretend to be original, and try watching more than one movie, or buying a dictionary. You could even try playing on “Locale Hero,” “Support Your Locale Serif,” “Austin Powers: Internationalization Man of Mystery,” “Miss Interpreted,”….

Ultan Ó Broin
Ultan Ó Broin (@localization), is an independent UX consultant. With three decades of UX and L10n experience and outreach, he specializes in helping people ensure their global digital transformation makes sense culturally and also reflects how users behave locally. Any views expressed are his own. Especially the ones you agree with.


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