Translation Ethics: Helluva Job, FEMA!

Nice, careful, professional work by the Federal Emergency Management Agency!

I’m kidding.

After a typhoon caused extensive damage to homes along Alaska’s western coast in September, FEMA’s job was to help residents repair property damage. Since most of the residents were native Alaskans, FEMA chose Accent on Languages, a Berkeley, California company, to translate its usual instructions on how to apply for aid.

They chose…poorly. The documents victims of the typhoon received would have been right at home in the Monty Python skit that featured translation book howlers like “My hovercraft is full of eels.” The Yup’ik and Inupiaq translations were nonsense. “Tomorrow he will go hunting very early, and will nothing,” read one mysterious passage. “Your husband is a polar bear, skinny,” another said. One document had bee translated into Inuktitut, an indigenous language that nobody uses in Alaska.

FEMA fired the translation company. It appears that the words in the “translated” documents were randomly lifted taken from Nikolai Vakhtin’s “Yupik Eskimo Texts from the 1940s.” “They clearly just grabbed the words from the document and then just put them in some random order and gave something that looked like Yup’ik but made no sense,” concluded an investigator.

The company’s CEO wrote, “We make no excuses for erroneous translations, and we deeply regret any inconvenience this has caused to the local community,” adding that FEMA would be getting a refund.


Source: Associated Press

More Amazing Stories Of The Great Stupid! FEMA Tells Us How To Avoid Getting The Wuhan Virus During A Nuclear Attack…

Do you wonder why fewer and fewer Americans trust their government? The reason is simple: the government is stuffed with idiotic bureaucrats who presume to tell us how to live our lives when they repeatedly demonstrate that they are fools pretending to have expertise and wisdom when all they really have is power to abuse.

Here is one throbbing example: FEMA’s directions on how to survive a nuclear attack. Of primary importance to the Biden Administration: while avoiding death by radiation, don’t forget to take pandemic precautions (last section)…

No, I’m not kidding, and this is not a hoax. Check yourself if you don’t believe me. Continue reading

Unethical Quote of the Week: Rep. Michele Bachmann

I think Hurricane Irene was sent by God to help the Red Sox. Hear me out! It makes mores sense than Michele's theory!

“I don’t know how much God has to do to get the attention of politicians. We’ve had an earthquake; we’ve had a hurricane. He said, ‘Are you going to start listening to me here?’ Listen to the American people because the American people are roaring right now. They know government is on a morbid obesity diet and we’ve got to rein in the spending.”

—-Rep. Michele Bachmann, GOP presidential hopeful and shameless demagogue, joining the discredited ranks of Pat Robertson, Glenn Beck and others to assert that weather conditions constitute proof that God agrees with her.

You can read my views on this arrogant, manipulative species of idiocy here, here and here.  I’ve written about it too much, and as an American living in the 21st Century, I’m embarrassed that I should have to write about it at all. Continue reading

Accountability Lessons, Oil Spill Ethics, and Obama’s Leadership Failure

President Obama has shown his inexperience and unfamiliarity with executive leadership ethics in many ways since he took office, but none are likely to be more damaging than his unease with accountability. He had better learn fast.

It is not surprising that so many mayors lose their jobs as the result of blizzards. Budget limitations guarantee that a city’s snow removal capabilities are set to the most likely levels of snowfall and not the extraordinary, once-in-a-decade event, yet when that once-in-a-decade event arrives, it will not do for the mayor to blame the budget or the weather or the City Council or the lack of a magic wand. The public doesn’t want to hear any of that: they want to be able to drive to work. They want the leader to fix the problem, because that’s what leaders are supposed to do. If a leader can’t fix the problem, he had better look as if he is doing everything possible and impossible to try. And he had better make it clear that he understands and accepts that it is his job. Continue reading