Somewhere in Asia, there was a restaurant owner. Despite the fact that he specialized in American cuisine and most of his clientele were English-speaking expatriates, he did not speak any English himself. Business was steady, but he still wanted to lure more international customers—so he decided to advertise the restaurant’s name in both Chinese and English. Since he didn’t speak English, he had no idea that the translation website he used to perform the translation was not working. And now his restaurant proudly boasts the name “Translate server error.” This is mistranslation at its finest and most comedic, but in places like Kenya, accurate translation is literally a matter of life and death.
Kurtis Swope, an associate professor at the US Naval Academy, describes unexpectedly running into a former student at a local restaurant. Their conversation is brief—mainly about the student’s courses that semester and his plans following graduation. Although the encounter is pleasant, it leaves Swope with an unsettling feeling: “After we talked, it occurred to me that I had heard him speak more during this short conversation than he had during the entire semester he took my course.”
Even those of us who are only partly paying attention to the news, have heard about the most recent issue in education: Interest rates on federally-subsidized student loans are scheduled to double July 1. Although interest rates have held steady at 3.4 percent for the 2011-2012 academic year, the rate will grow to 6.8 percent without congressional intervention.