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An Oregon Reader Warns Of Multilingual Pitfalls
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May 28, 2008, 05:00 AM
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From: David C. Hamilton, Ph.D. (e-mail him)

Re: Paul Nachman`s Blog: This Is America. Vote (And Order Cheesesteaks) In English!

I would like to amplify Nachman`s point, namely that it is unwise to allow various languages for official proceedings.

Nachman quotes from English First`s Jim Boulet:

"Translation requires a remarkable amount of trust in the translator, unless everyone involved is fluent in both languages. A translator with an agenda can be a dangerous person if no one else notices what he is actually doing." [The Peril of Perfidious Translators, October 8, 2003]:

Let`s imagine that all court proceedings must take place in two languages, English and Spanish.

That will require two court recorders, and two official translators, English to Spanish and Spanish to English. Each recording will go through the very expensive process of being translated into the other language.

Which version of Spanish will be used: the one spoken in Mexico, Spain or Argentina?

They`re all different.

And consider the prospect for mischief and fraud that a two-language system presents in everyday matters like apartment leases, automobile rentals and the like.

Since plenty of room for differing interpretations exists when documents are written in English only, imagine the chaos if multiple contract versions in various languages were in play.

Hamilton earned his Ph.D. in physics. He blogs here.