Friday, March 07, 2008

Moscow Diaries: Lost in Translation

What a cliched and copied-from-somewhere title!
We'll live with that until we invent a better one...
But we are living with a lot of other things too! Like the Russian to English Translation at my work place! The agency which does our translation work comes out with such gems, it is almost like seeing Shakespeare's creativity all over again...
Like the other day, someone was relating an anecdote about a term 'Expansion Circle' repeatedly appearing in a document. That doc was about what equipment should a cashier keep on his desk. (yeah, I know! Pretty sad life for us bankers, isn't it?) Bankers with 20 years experience couldn't crack this 'Expansion Circle' code until a frustrated employee stormed into the downstairs cashier's cabin and cross checked every item with the note...
All items matched except a a magnifying glass on the table and 'Expansion Circle' in the note... By exercising his superior powers of analysis and sherlock-holmes-style deduction technique, he figured out that 'expansion circle' is but a simple 'magnifying glass'! It was a case of true translation of the russian phrase..
Now if you think this isn't dramatic enough for a mention in an esteemed blog like this, try and understand what this sentence means:
“At presence by individual of documents, allowing him to proof status of resident/non-resident on his selection, corresponding selection is done by individual customer at conclusion by him of first agreement of bank account with the Bank by submission of corresponding document certifying his personality to the Bank."
Try it and tell me! I cracked it in under 2 minutes, btw.. but I'm an expert in the subject and know the context.
Cost cutting forced the company to boot out the agency, and we are supposed to translate our own documents.... So we take a russian doc, run it through Google translate and then try and make sense out of the warped grammar of 'At presence' and 'Expansion Circle'...
Lot of ppl are asking me what am I upto these days. Me? I'm Lost in Translation! Ah, the title is apt, after all!

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