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Native America Calling: When language translations go wrong
Wednesday, January 11, 2023

When language translations go wrong
The federal government issued translations on official documents to help Alaska Natives following destructive storms there.

The trouble is, the text is indecipherable for those it was intended to help. An investigative report found the Iñupiaq and Yup’ik translations from FEMA are essentially unreadable for those familiar with the languages.

One appears to be at least partly taken from a World War Two-era publication in the Soviet Union.

A FEMA brochure in..Yupi’k? Screenshot taken by KYUK

Guests on Native America Calling
Today on Native America Calling, we’ll check in with:

Tara Sweeney (Inupiaq), Principal and CEO of Tack 71 Strategies and former Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs at the U.S. Department of Interior

Julia Jimmie (Yup’ik), translator and Yup’ik language programming producer

Sam Berlin (Yup’ik), translator and KYUK talk show host

Gary Houlton, linguist

Emily Schwing, freelance reporter based in Alaska.

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Native America Calling
Listen to Native America Calling every weekday at 1pm Eastern.
Alternate Links: Native Voice One | NAC