In my line of work – which is reading, translating, editing English content to Korean and vice versa – I see a wasteland of linguistic failures(of which some are often my own), but the fact that I’m considered somewhat of an expert in English-Korean lexicon is mere chance. Had I been born a Chinese and immigrated in childhood to France, I could’ve just as easily become a Chinese-French expert or any other combination of languages for that matter.
So when I criticize a linguistic error, especially in regards to professional translations, I’m not lambasting a certain language or its people. I’m simply bemoaning the poor quality of work as well as the lazy and lax attitude of the people in charge of that particular assignment.
It so happened that I came across a particularly painful case of mis-translation last week and decided to draw attention to it using my Korean blog(which I do on my spare time as hobby but which one of my angry readers thought a waste of time, not realizing hobby is sort of a waste-of-time activity that most people knowingly engage in). And lo and behold – and I’m exaggerating a little here since the blog got close to 2,000 FB Likes – I was bombarded by accusations of hubris AND inferiority complex, and even being ashamed of my Korean identity, all because I demonstrated how to properly translate a web page of probably the largest Korean media company (As an aside I have to point out that the company has since corrected the said page, and so perhaps I’m justified in thinking that my blogs aren’t such a waste of time after all but sort of a public service medium).
Anyway, I’ve never considered myself particularly patriotic nor lackadaisical but I’ve definitely never been anywhere near being nationalistic. That’s because I hate hypocrisy in all forms and that’s basically what nationalism is, sticking up for your people just because you share a heritage no matter the faults. It’s sad but I see many many people who do not realize that blind nationalism is the antithesis of true patriotism.
Don’t get me wrong. I love Korea. I love the fact that I was born a Korean, I love living in Korea, I love Korean food and culture, I love its mountains and seas, I love Seoul(which I explained about in another blog), and most of my favorite people are Koreans, including my wife and kids. But I don’t blindly turn my eye away from its blemishes, whether they be political shenanigans, corporate malfeasance, office bullying or even web site fails.
So, to one of my less than gracious critics I asked her these two questions. When a critic criticizes a film, does that mean that he loathes the film industry and all its actors? And, how would she explain this sentence from the “global” company’s website to her friends(she’s an NYU student) – “CJ E&M is reborn with the best and newest discriminatory Only One spirit.”
Need I say more?