“An object-lesson in how not to contract out a public service”. That’s how the Rt Hon Margaret Hodge MP, Chair of the Committee of Public Accounts, described the centralised system for supplying interpreters to the justice system. (See also my previous post on Ministry of Justice language services). Headlines have included:
Translators and interpreters will not be the least bit surprised by these reports.
As a translator from Italian, I see painfully bad translations day in, day out, on Italian websites. Often the websites of prestigious public sector bodies.
Italian public sector translations: from bad to worse
Distinguished public figures – the Presidents and Chairmen and -women of Italian public sector organisations – are made to sound both pretentious and semi-literate in English.
Economics/statistics bodies publish wildly inaccurate information about Italy (the numbers are OK, but the English-language copy interpreting them is utterly wrong).
Regional tourism bodies invite visitors to sample the “peculiarities”, rather than the “unique features”, of their regions.
And with Italy’s public sector organisations awarding translation contracts based purely, or primarily, on lowest-price bids, this sort of garbage will only get worse. How could it be otherwise?
If Italy wants to be taken seriously on the international stage, it really should not be placing its international reputation in the hands of charlatans.
By Marian Dougan