Thursday, October 6, 2011

David Mitchell on the Age of McLocalization

I am a big fan of David Mitchell, a British comedian who, along with Robert Webb, is the brains behind the TV sketch-comedy series That Mitchell and Webb Look. His comedy style is both slightly bookish (bordering on the pedantic) and heavily infused with pop culture. A typical sketch involves Admiral Karl Dönitz finding out that he has just been named Führer in the wake of Hitler's suicide. After some initial euphoria in which he cries he has "great plans for Germany" and calls his wife to tell her the big news, Dönitz is crushed to discover that his totalitarian reign will be rather short-lived because his only task as Leader is to surrender to the Allies ("you wouldn't mind just giving me a quick 'Heil Dönitz?'").

In a Guardian video log, the curmudgeonly Mitchell recounts an experience familiar to the bemused consumer living in the Age of McLocalization, as he views a "localized" data stream on his flight:

I was watching the map display of the distance left to travel and the altitude of the plane. We had cycled through different units and different languages in such a way that it got into a loop displaying the height in feet and French. Pieds. For the French-speaking Anglophile who loves England so much, he has learned about feet, but not the English word for them. He insists on the Imperial system, but lacks the most basic English vocabulary.   
View the whole rant here.

Miguel Llorens is a freelance financial translator based in Madrid who works from Spanish into English. He is specialized in equity research, economics, accounting, and investment strategy. He has worked as a translator for Goldman Sachs, the US Government's Open Source Center, several small-and-medium-sized brokerages, asset management institutions based in Spain, and H.B.O. International. To contact him, visit his website and write to the address listed there. You can also join his LinkedIn network or follow him on Twitter.

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