MTA to offer better Korean translation

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority will correct its translation system for Korean.

In response to the Korea Daily’s report on its improper Korean translation of subway safety information, the MTA has promised to take Korean culture and sentiment into consideration when it comes to translation in the future.

“It is a difficult task to translate English into a foreign language to convey the meaning properly,” said Deirdre Parker, a spokeswoman for New York City Transit, in an email. “But we will keep the Korea Daily’s findings in mind when we make new posters in the future.”

The MTA contacted its translation subcontractor to check whether what Korea Daily reported was correct. The subcontractor replied that the original English information and the Korean translation delivered the same message. However, when the MTA double-checked with the newspaper, Korea Daily explained what was wrong with the translation, leading the MTA to promise to fix its Korean translation system.

“Even though they mean the same thing, the way the translation expresses the message doesn’t comply with Korean sentiment and culture,” Korea Daily pointed out. “Moreover, the terms are not what Koreans usually use in their daily lives.”

According to the MTA, the poster in question is part of a safety campaign from December 2010 to December 2011. It is supposed to convey the message that if you hang onto the outside of a moving train, you could get killed in an accident. It urged riders to stay inside and get to their destination safely. The MTA translated the poster into four languages, including Korean, Chinese and Spanish.

The Korean version says, “If you do train surfing, you could be thoroughly injured to death. Ride inside of the train. Arrive safely.”

The promotional material is posted inside all trains, including the 7 train.

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