The season of the witch (and all sorts of other ghosts and ghouls) is upon us once again!
As is tradition: everyone is dressing up in weird and wonderful outfits; it’s time to get into the festive spirit and, yet again, our office is no exception!
Some truly spooktacular (sorry) effort has gone into today, so we’d like to thank our staff for their enthusiasm!
No doubt celebrations will be taking place across the country; scary stories will be shared, people will huddle behind sofas, and delicious sweets will be devoured!
While there’s certainly plenty of fun to be had, the themes of the month also got us thinking: what scary stories are out there from within our field?
There are more than a few bizarre stories, but we’ll leave you with the most terrifying:
The Nightmare of the Translation Error from Beyond the Stars!
It may not sound like the stuff of traditional ‘Halloween Horrors’; but Mars has long been the focus of all sorts of weird and wonderful tales. Many of these have excited and astonished our imaginations for years!
Recent Horror films like Daniel Espinosa‘s “Life” in 2017, take a gory look at extraterrestrial life, whilst literary classics like “The War of the Worlds”, by H.G. Wells, depict older tales of imagined interplanetary invasion.
Our curiosity with the unknown and inexplicable is a big part of what makes Halloween so intriguing!
However, an especially spooky story relating to the Red Planet occurred in October 1938, when an excerpt of “The War of the Worlds” was being read aloud over the radio. The performance by Orson Wells was so compelling, it sent the USA into panic! Allegedly, many people were so moved by Wells’ speech, they thought aliens were really invading!*
*(In reality, this is likely a humorous exaggeration of events).
At the very least, it’s evidence that communication always involves some risk of miscommunication.
With this in mind, it’s also true that Translations can be Mistranslated.
One such tale of major mistranslation comes from when Italian astronomer, Giovanni Schiaparelli, was mapping Mars in 1877.
He was marking points on the planet where he believed continents, seas, and other such geographical things had existed. However, when labelling what he assumed were once natural ‘channels’ on the planet’s surface, he used the word ‘canali’: the correct Italian world for channel. However, upon reading his descriptions, Schiaparelli’s peers were evidently very excited by the word canali, so much so that they mistranslated it! Instead of correctly translating it to channels (which occur naturally), they read it as ‘canals’, which are man-made structures!
From there, all sorts of theories began to develop, but it led to one major conclusion: intelligent life must exist on Mars! With that, it hit fever-pitch as astronomers began to map these ‘canals’ and became increasingly convinced that they were uncovering artificial constructs on the red planet’s surface…all because of a mistranslation.
While this was eventually disproved (and was no fault of Schiaparelli’s, whose reputation remains very much intact), it’s reveals a translator’s worst nightmare: to have their work misinterpreted!
November and December
Okay…so it may not have been a very scary story, but we take Translation very seriously here!
Every day we work with highly qualified and experienced Translators to ensure we deliver quality, consistently. We don’t want any nasty shocks or surprises for you, especially at this time of year!
With Halloween now seeing out October, we’ve just got 2 months until the end of the year! We’ll keep you posted as we moved forward into November and December, but for all your need-to-know info, stay tuned to the DA Languages Blog.
Finally, once again we hope you enjoy the festivities, and wish you a Happy Halloween!
If you have any queries, get in touch with our team!
Written by Rhys Pattimore
Title image produced with Snappa.com.