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Aarrgghh!!! Why Expo 2015 is a language nightmare!

Aprile 2015
A maggio a Milano inizia Expo. Tra i tanti progetti milionari evidentemente sono mancati i soldi per i traduttori! Su un sito (per fortuna non quello ufficiale, sebbene ne utilizzi simboli e logo) leggiamo terribili strafalcioni linguistici, non passati inosservati neanche all'inglesissimo The Independent...

The poor English translations for Expo 2015 have even come to the attention of a British daily newspaper, The Independent, which recently published an article with a self-explanatory title:  “Expo 2015 ‘Google Translate’ scandal: World fair organizers in Milan accused of doing English-language translation on the cheap.”  The article was particularly critical of ExpoNews2015 (www.expo2015news.org), an on-line publication owned by the News 3.0 organization. According to News 3.0’s website “Our mission is to offer quality information on the web, by focusing on reliable, carefully researched content.” And yet headlines like the one shown above, which were clearly done by Google Translate, without the help of qualified human beings, are only the tip of the iceberg. The articles themselves are, from a purely linguistic point of view, even more horrific.
When we contacted ExpoNews2015’s editorial director, Tita Prestini, for comment she explained that the organization “Isn’t officially connected to the Expo. It’s an information site that is produced independently by our publishing company. It is updated several times a day and is aimed at members of the business world who are interested in the opportunites offered by Expo2015.” When we asked: “Who did the translations?” She replied: “An external company” (without naming it, which was a wise decision, under the circumstances). When we asked whether we could contact this company, Ms. Prestini stopped answering our emails.
It’s all pretty embarrassing, given that, even if this isn’t the official Expo site, it is often mistaken for it – after all, it uses its logos and other symbols. (Not that the English on the official site, www.expo2015.org, is that great, although it has improved recently.)

Expo 2015 is proving to be a language disaster! (click here to enlarge the image): This Italian saying is virtually untranslatable. The nearest equivalent in English would be  “When in Rome, do as the Romans” but that doesn’t really express the concept. And we don’t have enough space to explain the other mistakes, which are clear examples of “Google Translate.”


If you see English mistakes (in Italy, the UK, anywhere!) that make you scream “Aarrgghh!!!” take a photo (please make sure it’s in focus!) and send it to redazione@speakupmagazine.it We will publish the best (that is, the worst) both here and on our Facebook page.


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