USA – San Francisco doesn’t abide by its own translation requirements


3 September, 2009


Visitacion Valley resident Marlene Tran teaches English as a second language at City College, but she also works — independently and for free — on the city’s behalf. She translates bulletins and missives from agencies like the San Francisco Police Department into Cantonese and Mandarin for her neighbors, many of whom do not speak a lick of English. Thanks to Tran, some Chinese-speaking Vis Valley residents now know about the massive “green transit village” redevelopment project at the old Schlage Lock industrial site, and others now trust the SFPD’s Ingleside Station enough to participate in a community policing survey (although she still had to explain a few things, such as why “Outer Mission” was translated into “Outer Space” in the SFPD’s stab at Chinese).

Tran is happy to do this, but it isn’t her job — in fact, by law, it’s the city’s job…

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