Language Mistakes Translate to Voting Mishaps

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Moravia Offers Tips to Ensure all Ballots Contain Same Wording.

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Moravia Worldwide Logo

Inaccurate translations are a serious problem in many industries, but when the outcome of an election is at stake, they’re absolutely inexcusable.

With nearly one fifth of U.S. residents speaking a language other than English, it’s imperative that words on American voting ballots are translated without error. But as recent cases have shown, minor translation mistakes can cause big problems for U.S. voters.

A Korean translation of the 2012 California state voter’s guide said Proposition 30 would raise the sales tax by 25 cents instead of a quarter of a penny. And in Maryland, the wording of a Spanish ballot regarding same sex marriage was technically correct, but a change in the order of a single sentence altered the meaning of the vote’s purpose.

“Inaccurate translations are a serious problem in many industries, but when the outcome of an election is at stake, they’re absolutely inexcusable,” said Renato Beninatto, Chief Marketing Officer of Moravia, one of the world’s largest translation and globalization companies.

To ensure translation accuracy, Beninatto says any organization must have a standardized process that includes local linguistic knowledge and qualified third-party feedback. Three steps are involved, Beninatto explained:
1. Engage a professional translator who speaks the local dialect of the language in translation and who understands the subject matter to be translated. Don’t just pick someone who speaks the language. Like all professions, translators have specialized skills and credentials you can rely on.
2. Proof the initial draft of the translation by a qualified third party who has an in-depth knowledge of the topic being translated.
3. If there are discrepancies between the translator’s copy and the proofreader’s feedback, continue the process until both parties reach an agreement.

“Translation is a process, not an isolated project,” Beninatto said. “It’s particularly challenging even for the most hands-on managers because, if they don’t speak the language themselves, they cannot ensure accuracy. The key is to make sure the process itself is handled correctly.”

About Moravia
Moravia is a leading globalization solution provider, enabling companies in the information technology, e-learning, and life sciences industries to enter global markets with high-quality multilingual products. The company maintains global headquarters in the Czech Republic and North American headquarters in California, with local offices and production centers in Japan, China, Latin America, Ireland, USA and throughout Europe.

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Libor Safar
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