DMI Blog

Andrew Friedman

Insultingly Bad

Okay, get ready: this photo was taken in Ridgewood, Queens. Yes, the Spanish translation is bad - bizarrely bad. Initially, I had assumed that the building and the sign belonged to some renegade owner who just couldn't speak Spanish, and didn't want to spring for translation. Upon further inspection, though, it turned out that the building is owned by the New York City School Construction Authority. Presumably, the City could find space in our 55 billion dollar annual budget to get signs about life and death matters, like construction safety, translated accurately.

Once I noticed this fiasco, I began to notice these signs everyone. Alas, we are in the midst of an outer borough building boom. Every sign I saw had at least one obvious translation error, although none were as off as the sign pictured above.

It is both astounding and discouraging that the City can't seem to get this one sentence translated properly.

This ineptitude, and disregard for the 2 million New Yorkers who are still in the process of learning English, though, is emblematic of how translation and interpretation services are provided by City government. Language assistance services are poorly coordinated, provided haphazardly, and often are not provided at all.

Like the sign, it's an embarrassment.

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Posted at 12:07 PM, Jun 26, 2006 in Language Access
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