Archive for October, 2010

Gubernatorial Candidate Admits Deception

Saturday, October 16th, 2010

The website of California gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman confesses that Whitman deceived her own family. It says “Meg Whitman and her husband’s former employee, Nicky Santillan, deceived the family by lying about her status as a legal worker for 9 years.”

Conclusion: Either Whitman admits she is a deceiver, or Whitman doesn’t care enough about clarity to avoid making critically ambiguous statements in her campaign, or she cares enough but hasn’t discovered how to do so.

Avoiding ambiguity is not easy, but just showing the draft to several readers and asking for comments is a good start.

The Spanish version of Whitman’s website succeeds where the English one doesn’t: “Nicky Santillan, ex empleada de Meg Whitman y su esposo, engañó a la familia y les mintió sobre su condición legal para trabajar durante 9 años.” Had Whitman not published a Spanish version, Spanish speakers relying on Google’s translation service would have seen an unambiguous confession in “Meg Whitman y ex empleado de su marido, Nicky Santillán, engañó a la familia por mentir sobre su condición de trabajador legal de 9 años.”

This suggests that clarity may not be enough. A prudent author may want to run a draft through automatic translation services and check on whether the translations into various other languages fatally misrepresent the intended meanings.