Mangled Spanish throughout Obamacare web site - How does this happen on huge, prestige projects?

Per this news itemyou look at this and wonder how this takes place. A project that is a real BFD in Joe Biden’s parlance and you have insanely incompetent Spanish translations. There is hardly a lack of people in the US who are fluently bi-lingual. When you are spending hundreds of millions to billions and communication is paramount how does such a large ball get so completely dropped?

How much effort would it really have taken to get some Spanish teachers and bi-lingual insurance agents to read the site dialog and make needed corrections before rollout? A few days?

Looking at theoriginal story, it appears to me the focus is more on technical glitches – inability to scan documents, links going to the wrong place, long waits on the phone, etc. – than on faulty translation.

As for the one translation problem specifically mentioned:

My Spanish-English dictionary translates “premium” into “prima” and specifically notes that “prima” is used in commerce to mean “premium.” Cuotas may translate as “cost” but it also translates as “quota.”

Of course, a Cuban-American in Miami, a Puerto Rican in New York and a Mexican-American in San Diego often have different words or phrases for the same thing and there’s no official word-for-word translation.

Do we know that that did not happen?

Creo que era demasiado largo, así que no lo leí.

Why didn’t they just do what cartoons do…add an -o or -a or -oso or -osa to the end of every word and be done with it.

Insurancea premiumoso going uppo. But of course you have to say it much more loudly for them to understand.

Well also in the report is an update:

If this is true - I think it is hard to argue that this was necessarily obvious machine translation. I have no idea as I am nowhere near fluent in Spanish. It would be nice if someone here was.

If that is their first example - and the well known Spanish language TV station uses the same thing - then I find it hard to give credence to the rest of the report.

Not to say they didn’t fuck up big time.

Well, they didn’t realize that they had hired the wrong guy until he showed up doing the sign language translation at Mandela’s memorial.

OK, bilingual native-speaker here. And I just read a few pages.

What I just read is JUST OK. It will not win any literature prizes or get honors in the Writing class nor will it be carved on marble some day, and some bits are quite arid (what did you expect, it’s government AND insurance in the same place), but you can get what’s the information being conveyed and the grammar is by the book.

Most importantly, though, IMHO of course, it is NOT in "Spanglish". It’s in non-literary, bureaucratic Spanish. Whoever is complaining it’s in “Spanglish” is really complaining that it’s not in his/her preferred regional/national vernacular usage or that dominant in their trade/academic circles.

(BTW there is a specifically U.S. branch of the Academia de la Lengua, it’s NOT subordinate to the Spanish, Mexican, Puerto Rican or Cuban one)

Sure, therein hangs a kernel of validity to the observation about stilted translation. Because, as mentioned…

…plus the twenty other possible national origin groups of recent arrivals, that means that any “official” US government or nationwide-market commercial translation is necessarily a sort of middle-ground “neutral” dialect that will be understandable to a maximum amount of people but may look and sound unnatural to any one specific group. It’s a trade-off, rather than have multiple “Spanish” versions.

So as per the example, yes, Puerto Ricans and Cubans dealing with the insurance business in the East do say “primas” for “premiums”. Sorry for the confusion, New Mexicans.