Wed, Mar 11, 2009 - Page 3 News List

Indigenous affairs chief apologizes for bad translation

By Flora Wang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Minister of the Council of Indigenous Peoples Chang Jen-hsiang (章仁香) yesterday apologized over a translation error by the National Museum of Prehistory that may have insulted Aborigines.

“The translator made a very serious mistake. We regret the error. We apologize to Aborigines,” Chang said during a question-and-answer session with Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislators Lin Shu-fen (林淑芬) and Yu John-dow (余政道).

Chang was forced to apologize after DPP Legislator Chen Ying (陳瑩) on Monday pointed to several translation errors in a book published by the museum.

Chen told reporters that the book, Bridging Taiwan with Austronesia, wrongly referred to Aborigines’ facial tattoos as a symbol of “adultery” when in fact such tattoos represent passage into adulthood.

“Foreigners who only speak English and do not understand Mandarin may think that Aborigines’ facial tattoos is a sign [that they committed] adultery,” Chen said.

Chen also complained about the translation of Aboriginal oracles as “witches.”

“This term has a negative connotation. In some dictionaries, the term also means a seductive woman,” Chen said.

Premier Liu Chao-shiuan (劉兆玄) told Lin and Yu that the government had to apologize to Aborigines for the mistranslation.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lo Shu-lei (羅淑蕾) also criticized the translation.

Also yesterday, Minister of National Defense Chen Chao-min (陳肇敏) offered his own apology at the legislature over a gaffe that could have insulted low-income families.

While fielding questions by DPP Legislator Chai Trong-rong (蔡同榮) on Monday, Chen Chao-min promised that the military would consider distributing the military’s “kitchen leftovers” to people living in poverty.

Chen Chao-min’s remark immediately drew criticism from DPP legislators.

“This was a blunder. I grew up in a poor family. I would never discriminate against the poor. I’m very sorry about the gaffe,” Chen Chao-min said.

KMT Legislator Chu Fong-chi (朱鳳芝) lambasted Chen Chao-min and Minister of the Central Personnel Administration Chen Ching-hsiu (陳清秀), who recently said that the blunders showed that officials in the current administration lacked empathy for the public.

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