October 26, 2013
Police apology for 'incomprehensible' translation of Diwali safety leaflet
Police have apologised for issuing a poorly translated Diwali safety leaflet that Punjabi speakers were unable to understand.
The force teamed up the fire service, Leicester City Council and Crimestoppers to send out 12,000 special greetings cards with tips to help people enjoy the Festival of Lights.
However a translation of the safety advice, organised by the police, has been described as "incomprehensible" by Punjabi speakers who say it has sentences which do not make sense and grammatical mistakes.
Accompanying Gujarati and Hindi translations on the same leaflet are correct.
Professor Shingara Dhillon, from Rushey Mead, was one of thousands of people who had the baffling Diwali greeting delivered to their homes.
Prof Dhillon, a member of the Panjabi Arts, Cultural and Literary Council UK, said: "It is a good idea to translate this information because there are 36,000 Punjabi speakers in Leicester.
"However, they have just done an awful job of it. It's not in proper Punjabi language.
"Lots of people have come to me and say they can't understand it.
"It looks like it has been done in a huge rush. It is very bad because the safety information is very important.
"The problem would have been obvious straight away.
"It's very embarrassing but also serious."
A police spokeswoman admitted the translation was "of a poor quality".
She said all three translations, each costing £42, had been given to an unnamed external company.
No further copies of the translation are to be distributed ahead of Diwali day on Sunday, November 3, but the spokeswoman said most of them had already been given out.
She said: "The leaflet was produced with good intention and we sincerely apologise for any upset or offence this may have caused. We will ensure that no further copies of the translation are distributed and will take the matter up with the company which provided the translation.
"This year the decision was made to translate the safety advice and greetings into three languages – Punjabi, Hindi and Gujarati – to ensure the information was accessible to a wider range of people whose first language isn't English.
"Leicestershire Police arranged for the text to be translated through an external company. The translated text was then produced as a leaflet which was inserted into the greetings cards."