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All Graduates

All Graduates is a privately owned translation and interpreting agency specialising in providing services to government, community and corporations in Australia.

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Translation's lost meaning

An unnamed Translator's work appeared in the headlines on the weekend. Unfortunately, it was for all the wrong reasons. In a recent Herald Sun article 'Chinese version of Julia Gillard's Australia in the Asian Century paper was poorly translated', a Simplified Chinese translation of the Prime Minister's 'Australia in the Asian Century' paper casts a shadow over professional and experienced translators.

The article outlines comments from viewers of the translated document, recently made public online ( at ).

The harsher amongst them conclude that it appeared to be a literal translation, perhaps generated by using Google Translate and that "Some English words were translated without preserving the original meaning, regarded as an amateur mistake."

The article reports that a Chinese national student responded emotionally upon reading the translation - " I was ready to cry when I read it."

A reviewer from the University of Western Australia explained that the translation  "In general, it is understandable. 'Simplified' refers to the version of Chinese characters versus traditional characters."  They recommend that there is room for improvement.

Although the journalist has not revealed the name of the translator, instead indicating that "the translation was done by a service accredited by the National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters."  their use of the phrase 'a service accredited by' not 'a translator' or 'a translator provided by an agency' is interesting to note.

This article raises several questions. Included;

1. Was independent checking (a proofread by a second translator) engaged?

2. What was the time frame for completion of the translation?

3. Was a back-translation part of the translation process?

As Prime Minister "Gillard's office wants answers", and the promise of a review of the translation has been made, perhaps this won't be the only time this translation appears makes the news.



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