I am vicariously proud: Judy Jenner, the intrepid veep of (subliminal advertising alert) NITA, is quoted in the Wall Street Journal’s portrait of the translation and interpreter professions. And so I wanted to jump into the fray to add my two cents worth. Unsurprisingly, registration is a prerequisite for that, so I went ahead and typed in the obligatory information, and expectantly hit the “Submit” button.

Unfortunately, and at that point, I was mercilessly thrown back. Apparently, my name is unpalatable for the delicate taste of the WSJ’s ruthlessly monocultural website. A circumstance which, in light of the aforementioned article, just begs for a barrel of puns, but still…

Isn’t there something to be said for a more educated approach to programming automated responses to unexpected user input, instead of suggesting what the following token of linguistic intolerance suggests?

First name contains invalid characters. Last name contains invalid characters.

Now, I’m almost giddy I wasn’t accused of having a name comprising illegal characters but that’s only by a whisker. Being informed of having a name with crippled characters isn’t much of an improvement, I reckon. And yet here I am, thinking that I use the same Latin alphabet… Oh well.

Meanwhile I trust that, soon enough, machines will follow a more advanced social behavioral model; it shouldn’t take too long before the realization sinks in that yes, embracing globalization really means more than merely showing enthusiasm over the possible profits that can come along with a willingness to tolerate funny speaking folks, e.g. by allotting a budget to outsource the task of dealing with said people. Even when they have weird names crippled by flawed and/or invalid characters…

The thing is, the technological barriers that purportedly stand in the way of “allowing” non-standard names – like mine – are actually rooted in the 19th century and have gone into the night of obsolescence at least a decade or so ago. I believe it’s outright laughable that the arcane teletype and typewriter are used – to this day, as illustrated by my anecdotal experience – as an excuse to arbitrarily impose an “acceptable” spelling, of something as personally defining as a name. Somehow I suspect that brand names are treated with greater circumspection by this newspaper in question…

And yet, I can only faintly imagine the systematic frustration experienced by people who write using multi-byte scripts

One Reply to “Crippled”

  1. Ha, too funny! And of course leaving the accents out isn’t an option — they make you, YOU! It is quite surprising that the WSJ has not embrazed special characters. Perhaps I should leave a comment to that effect on the page…After all, I have been deemed worth, as there are no accents in my name.

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