Skimping on translation

Wrong way
Attempts at literal translation can be dangerous

I noted elsewhere that we made our first visit to the new Terminal 3 of the GRUAirport yesterday. It was all very nice, but there were a few disconcerting items.

In the seven-story parking garage, the sign “Sentido Proibido” was translated as “Straight Prohibited.” Sounds like everyone who enters is required to be homosexual. Actually, it was telling you that it the lane was one way and you couldn’t go that way. Wrong-way signs already exist for Brazilian traffic. One can only wonder why the high-class designers, architects, and engineers didn’t bother to use them.

A foreigner parking in the garage who goes by the English translation of the sign may well not understand it and try to go the wrong way. The translation is not clear. Literalism in translation often does not communicate accurately and can cause inconvenience and, at times, danger.

You can figure out where I’m going here when it comes to translating the Bible, since I’ve made it many times before.

The airport authorities may have been skimping on the price of getting a proper translator. Bible translators should not skimp when it comes to communicating the idioms and ideas of Scripture rather than being slaves to literalistic renderings and, perhaps, putting the souls of readers in danger.

J. Randal Matheny

Be pithy.

What do you think?