Monday, 6 June 2011

Choosing a name to attract the voters

Would you vote for 'Mr Correct and Fair' or would you rather cast your ballot for 'Mr Australian Horse'? It seems bizarre, but these are two of the names on the ballot paper for a judge's position in San Francisco - at least if you are a Chinese-American.

With more than one in five voters in the city of Chinese origin and with many of those unable to speak or read English, the city has taken to translating candidates' names into chinese characters on the ballot paper.

Some candidates use phonetic translations. So Richard Ulmer's last name became 'Ao Ma' - which in turn translates as Australian Horse.

On the other hand, there is nothing in the rules (at least, not yet) to say that the translation has to be phonetic, or even literal. So Michael Nava, running against Mr Ulmer, became 'Li Zheng Ping', which translates as Correct and Fair. In a contest to be a judge, those two attributes might be seen to be a bit of an advantage.

There's currently a campaign in the city to force candidates to use a phonetic translation. It's being promoted by State Senator Leland Yee who may be said to start with a bit of an advantage since his full chinese name already translates as Emperor Heart.

Hat-tip NPR.

No comments: