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Translation Errors Affect Everyone

For the third time this year, errors in the Korean translation of a free-trade contract have actually compelled the government to withdraw it, potentially postponing the procedure of approval by several months. It’s not yet clear what triggered the blunders in the current FTA between Washington and Seoul, but much less than a month earlier, the exact same incident occurred with the English to Korean translation of a trade pact with the European Union. That document had 207 mistranslations that needed correction, as well as Kim Jong-hoon being forced to apologize for “not paying better and comprehensive focus.”

How is it possible that so many mistakes passed unnoticed in an unbelievably important file? According to Kim, it was due largely to stress and anxiety on worn staff members. The administration’s goal of validating the FTA by the end of April might have placed too much stress on their translation groups. Expedited or thrill translations are much more error-prone, as well as without a doubt a number of the errors involved words being neglected or changed from plural to singular. Yet a few of the errors also appear to be the result of inadequate word selection or absence of understanding. As an example, “transplant” was mistranslated as “transfusion” and also “epidemiological” as “skin treatment solutions.” These errors also took place although that the Korean federal government paid upwards of $27,000 to examine the translated text of the treaty.

Exactly how can South Korea correct the circumstance? One parliament agent is requiring the production of a board to analyze whether agreements have been equated appropriately. The legislators themselves would proof the files to ensure that they have been translated appropriately. This seems fairly severe. A better choice would be working with an outside translation service specializing in English to Korean translations. Contracting out translation solutions could not be popular with government employees, yet it might save South Korea quite a bit of cash—not to mention humiliation—in the long run.

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