April Fool’s Day Teases Translators

April Fool’s Day Teases Translators

Translation services employees in the U.S. probably had a double take when they learned that a U.S. city had introduced emoji translation last week. For those readers who haven’t a clue what emojis are and think that maybe emoji is a spoken language, they are actually the emoticons that are often used to accentuate an idea or comment in an email or text message.

In fact, rather than emoji being a minor language of a small remote community somewhere in the world, it is actually an internationally recognized language of symbols. Nearly everyone has used an emoji character at least once, like the smile icon to show pleasure or acceptance, the frown icon to show the opposite, the thumbs up icon to show approval and so on.

So where did the emoji translation April’s Fool Day story originate? It was in the city of Burlington, in the small Northeastern U.S. state of Vermont. The story was the April Fool’s Day offering of a local weekly paper called “Seven Days,” which tends to focus on local politics and issues and is seen as an alternative to the mainstream media.


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    The story focused on the city of Burlington’s “translation feature”. This is found at the top right-hand corner of the city’s own website. By selecting one of many languages it instantly (or nearly instantly) translates the articles on the website into that language.

    The spoof report from “Seven Days” reported that Burlington’s mayor Milo Weinberger had introduced emoji into the website’s list of languages to be translated and was proud to announce that the city was the very first city in the country to have emoji as an optional language.

    Just in case, you thought that emoji document translation is just around the corner, check the city’s real website and you will discover that “emoji” is not exactly an option. You’ve been had! However, if you would like to read the exploits of Mayor Weinberger’s city in Arabic, Hausa or Swahili then go ahead because you won’t be disappointed! Of course, the website is unlikely to use a professional translation service to translate all its news properly so woe betides native speakers of those languages on the options list as they will probably find the translations as mangled and confusing as to be expected from a typical computer-aided translator!

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