TransPerfect Offers Association of Israeli Journalists Pro Bono Translation Services After Online Translation Blunder Sparks "Major, Major Incident"


TransPerfect Offers Association of Israeli Journalists Pro Bono Translation Services After Online Translation Blunder Sparks "Major, Major Incident"

Group of Israeli Journalists relies on online translation tool; ends up asking Dutch Foreign Minister about the sleeping arrangements of his mother

Translation mishap leads Dutch Foreign Ministry to consider canceling press event and filing formal complaint

Middle East Newsline - November 8, 2007

Three days after the Dutch Foreign Ministry notified Israel it had received questions regarding the minister's mother from Israeli journalists, TransPerfect, the world's largest privately held translation company, officially offered the Association of Israeli Journalists pro bono translation services.

"Inaccurate translations can lead to serious misunderstandings between countries and these Israeli journalists certainly are not alone," said Liz Elting, President and Co-Founder of TransPerfect, Inc. "We want to make sure that this never happens again. Our highly trained team of translators can ensure that questions from Israeli journalists don't spark international incidents, or at the very least, ensure that no one's mother is insulted." 

The incident occurred this past weekend, when a standard request for advance questions from the Dutch Foreign Ministry turned into what an officer in the Israeli Foreign Ministry called a "major, major incident." As the Jerusalem Post reported earlier this week, a group of Israeli journalists attempted to use an online translation tool to translate their Hebrew questions into English. The results were less than precise.

"Helloh bud," began the e-mail. "Enclosed five of the questions in honor of the foreign minister: The mother your visit in Israel is a sleep to the favor or to the bed your mind on the conflict are Israeli Palestinian, and on relational Israel Holland."

The e-mailed questions were more than simply an embarrassment for the reporters. According to the Jerusalem Post, the Dutch Foreign Ministry is now considering canceling the entire trip and filing a formal complaint over the incident.

After the questions were entered into the online translation tool, questions like "What, in your opinion, needs to be done regarding the Iranian threat to Israel?" Became: "What in your opinion needs to do opposite the awful the Iranian of Israel." Additional translation errors included "bandages of the knitted domes" instead of "Dome of the Rock" and a question that read "Why we did not heard on mutual visits of main the states of Israel and Holland, this is in the country of this."

"So many people do not understand the appropriate and effective use of online translation tools: clearly, there is a very important distinction between what these tools can accomplish and what an experienced, professional translator can produce. To avoid any future international incidents due to translation problems of this nature, we have offered our translation services, created by professional translators, to the Association of Israeli Journalists," said Elting. 

About TransPerfect
With revenue of over $250 million, TransPerfect is the largest privately held language services provider in the world. From offices in 66 cities on 5 continents, TransPerfect offers a full range of services in over 100 languages to multinationals worldwide. With a global network of over 4,000 linguists and subject-area specialists, TransPerfect is the largest translation company to be fully ISO 9001:2008 and EN 15038:2006 certified. TransPerfect is headquartered in New York and has regional headquarters in London and Hong Kong. For more information, please visit our website at

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