Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Candidates lost in Chinese translation

USA Today article
Boston's 2008 presidential primary ballot could read like a bad Chinese menu.

There might be "Sticky Rice" in column A, "Virtue Soup" in column B and, in column C, "Upset Stomach."

Those could be choices facing some voters if the names of Mitt Romney, Fred Thompson and Hillary Rodham Clinton were converted into Chinese characters, according to Massachusetts' top election official. And that gives Secretary of State William Galvin heartburn.

On Tuesday, Galvin filed a challenge in federal court to a Justice Department agreement requiring that ballots be fully translated to protect the rights of Chinese-speaking voters.

Galvin says Chinese — which uses characters, not letters; has sounds with several meanings; and is spoken in several dialects — will create ballot chaos.

This is stupid. I can live with translating voting instructions, even though citizens are supposed to have some English proficiency, but transliterating candidate names into Chinese characters is retarded. Most Chinese names are chosen specifically for their meaning (and number of strokes) and are pronounced differently depending on the dialect. On a voting ballot, all you need is to distinguish one from candidate from another. If a voter can't even tell the difference visually between "Hillary Clinton" and "Fred Thompson", I'm not sure that person should be voting. Also, unless candidates are running ads with their new "Chinese" names, how will the voter know who they are on the ballot on election day?

What I want to know is whether they will print the Chinese ballots with traditional or simplified characters. Taiwanese people will probably protest for a "Taiwanese" ballot since they claim they're not Chinese.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

they are missing a big point. majority of Chinese don't vote.