Although it is supported with advanced tools and apps helping it to function properly; however, translation is a task that requires experience and verbal skills in order to deliver the meaning and ideas correctly. Here are three instances caused disastrous results and we can see its effects until now:
1. One word caused 220,000 persons to lose their lives:
In May 1945, Germany agreed to unconditional surrender to the allied forces ending 4 years of world war II. Shortly after this date, the allied leaders held a conference in Potsdam city near Berlin demanding Japan to follow Germany path. The British prime minister Churchill, the Soviet leader Stalin, USA president Truman along with the Chinese commander Chiang Kai-Shek asserted .3 any negative response to that demand will result in “prompt and utter destruction”. The Japanese government discussed the terms of the surrender in the Potsdam Declaration without reaching a final decision and Japanese Premier Kantaro Suzuki told the reporters in Tokyo this using the Japanese word, “mokusatsu” which means no comment or silence. However, there are other meanings for this word which are “ignore” or “treat with silent contempt”.
The translators working at the international news agencies choses the negative meaning which fits that the statement of the allies is not worthy of comment. The US government was angered by this reply and issued the order to drop a nuclear bomb over thousands of innocents who are not responsible for the mistake done by the translators and inability to deliver the right idea.
2. Incorrect translation costs 71 Million USD$:
Thinking that it is only a headache due to inhaling some gasoline in one of his friend’s car, but minutes later he was unable to stand and he was transferred to South Florida hospital. We are talking about USA baseball player Willie Ramirez. His friend and family speak only Spanish. The doctors in the emergency room replied on one the employees who know Spanish, but he was not a translator and he delivered a wrong idea that Willie had food poisoning because he injected something and the doctors understood it was an overdose of drugs and they began the treatment accordingly because he had similar symptoms to those who suffer from drug overdose. It only needed a medical translator for Willie not losing his future sport and normal life. when he recovered form comatose state two days later, he was quadriplegic. A lawsuit was filed and resulted in 71 million dollars to be paid by the hospital as a compensation for Willie, but this amount will not bring back his old life.
3. Moses still depicted as having horns till now:
A simple interpretation mistake by Saint Jerome, the patron saint of translators, while translating Exodus chapter 34 from Hebrew Scriptures into Latin. He translated the text describing the event when Moses descended from Mount Sinai, he had “keren” which means rays of the skin of his face and the word keren or qaran was translated by Saint Jerome as horns. When the catholic church published the formal Latin version, it adopted the translation of Saint Jerome of describing Moses and from that moment on, all the artists and sculptors make the head of Moses with horns. The best example of this is the work of the artist Michelanglo located in the church of San Pietro in Vincoli in Rome.
As the aforementioned examples, we conclude that mistranslation can lead to catastrophic results. Translation doesn’t necessarily mean that you can speak two or more languages. It is a special skill that needs more efforts and great understanding of both languages, not to forget the experience of the translator.