Allow me to traduce

Mercy Hospital Emergency Room, Chicago, Illinois

Be careful with those translations! While I was still a police officer, I would have to take people to Mercy Hospital for medical treatment. Of course, that meant I spent plenty of time waiting in the triage area of the emergency room.

Since I love to read, I would read everything in sight. One notice to patients who were signing in always bothered me. In English, it read: “Attention. Please take a form from the basket and fill out completely. When finished place face down in completed basket.” Okay, the notice wasn’t exactly written in perfect English, so perhaps that’s why the translator had difficulty translating it into Spanish. However, no matter how many times I read the Spanish translation, I could never make any sense of it. And no one ever bothered to correct it.

Finally, after reading it for two years or so, I wrote it down: “Atención. Por favor tome un formulario en blanco de la cesta y llénese completamente. Cuando en el lugar terminado confronta en la cesta completada.” How, I wondered, did the translator arrive at this translation? And, what were the translator’s qualifications?

This reminds me of my Spanish student Elwood Chipchase who one day began telling me about July Churches. He was going on and on about July Churches and I had no idea what he was telling me. Finally, I had to ask him, “What are you talking about?” Well, it turns out that I didn’t understand him because he had translated the name of the Spanish singer Julio Iglesias into English!