Requests for emergency aid in Alaska Native languages ​​full of nonsense

Requests for emergency aid in Alaska Native languages ​​full of nonsense

Requests for emergency aid in Alaska Native languages ​​full of nonsense

  • A California company has translated FEMA documents into outrageous phrases in native languages.
  • The society has extracted different passages from old books and misidentified languages.
  • Alaska Natives were quick to notice the mistakes, saying it highlights the fading of their languages.

A California company hired to translate documents for Alaska Natives filled the forms with illogical and meaningless phrases and expressions instead of valuable information that would have led them to access lifesaving help, reported the local KYUK station.

In September, the remnants of Typhoon Merbok swept through northwest Alaska, leading to flooding and destroyed homes. The Federal Emergency Management Agency opened apps to give residents access to millions of dollars in aid and hired a company called Accent on Languages ​​to translate forms into languages ​​like Yup’ik. and the Iñupiaq.

The translations, however, were inaccurate and sometimes misidentified languages, according to experts who spoke with KYUK.

For example, a document labeled as Iñupiaq, an indigenous language spoken in northwest Alaska and Canada, was actually written in Inuktitut, which follows a completely different alphabetic system and is spoken in the north. -eastern Canada, KYUK reported.

In a press release, a sentence that should have read “State News Desk” actually read “when she said it, the dog ran away from the curtain,” according to KYUK.

In other documents, the word “Alaska” was randomly inserted into sentences, according to experts who spoke to The Associated Press. One document contained the phrase “Your husband is a skinny polar bear,” the AP reported.

Some of the phrases used in the documents were taken from literature written in various Alaska Native languages, experts told the AP.

Tara Sweeney, an Iñupiaq who previously worked for the US Department of the Interior, told the AP that the errors contained ‘symbolism’ that dated back to when Alaska Native languages ​​were erased in boarding schools. in the 1900s.

“When my mother was beaten for speaking her language in school, like so many hundreds, thousands of Alaska Natives, only to have the feds hand out literature that said it was ‘an Alaskan native language, I can’t even describe the emotion behind it, some kind of symbolism,’ Sweeney told the AP.

FEMA spokeswoman Jaclyn Rothenberg told the AP that the agency fired the company responsible and re-translated the documents. Aid was also not postponed due to the error, Rothenberg told the AP.

The company’s CEO, Caroline Lee, pledged to translate the documents, also apologized for the error, and told the AP they would reimburse FEMA $5,116, the cost of ” erroneous translations”.

FEMA and Accent on Languages ​​did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

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