In all fairness, the city of Toronto believed they were doing something that would endear them to their diverse residents but instead ended up causing confusion.
Recently the city’s 2020 waste management calendar was mailed out to hundreds of thousands of homes, attempts to be inclusive by providing information in English, French, Tamil, Chinese, Spanish, and Portuguese. However, what was supposed to be information written in Tamil is actually just a bunch of gibberish.
“We see many places, the order of the letters are mixed up; and then in some places we see letters that don’t exist in the Tamil alphabet,” said Neethan Shan, the executive director at the Urban Alliance on Race Relations in an interview with a local media outlet.
“It’s insulting. Many of our communities have faced huge amounts of discrimination and loss of life trying to protect our languages. It also sends the wrong message to the community that the language is not respected.”
There are also issues with the Farsi translation in the calendar. A section that claims to be written in Farsi script, which is the Persian alphabet, is actually written mostly in Arabic font.
City spokesperson in a statement said: “A typesetting error has resulted in incorrect Tamil and Farsi translations in the city’s 2020 waste collection calendars and incorrect Tamil translation in the recent winter operations direct mail,” Ross wrote.
“The city apologizes for these errors and is immediately taking the necessary steps to ensure that translations are proofread and verified in final layout prior to being printed so such errors never happen again.” Ross said providing correct information in languages other than English allows diverse communities in Toronto to better access city services and programs, helps improve engagement with the city, and fosters inclusion for residents, groups and organizations.
While this gesture with sideways, it is clear that going forward all cities, not just Toronto could consider involving the community by getting its members fluent in the language involved in sharing ideas as well as proofreading copy before it finally goes out to the public.
Better still cities would be better off if they spent more time and resources on improving services rather than try to cater to dozens of languages with mixed results. -CINEWS