Category Archives: kenyans on twitter #KOT korean Air

Lost in translation?

This morning I saw a twitter update about a Korean Air Ad, promoting its new 3 times a week flight to Nairobi, which would otherwise be great news, as Kenya embraces the East as tourist and investor numbers from the traditional western markets begin to decline following not only the European financial crisis, but internal issues such as the post-election violence in 2007-2008, as well as continued tension between Alshabaab and the Kenyan government.

But it wasn’t good news. I searched the website, and found this

This advert became the object of banter among Kenyans most of today. Known on twitter as #KOT, or Kenyans on twitter; the response ranged from rage,analysis, to hilarious bits about everything Korean.

These were some of my tweets

‘However much we try to be analytical about the word primitive, if I referred to you as such you would be offended.”

My first thought was that it wasn’t meant to actually mean primitive.According to the oxford dictionary, when used as an adjective

ancient, original

archaic, basic, earliest, early, elementary, essential, first, fundamental, old, primal, primary, primeval, primordial, pristine, substratal, underivative, underived, underlying, undeveloped, unevolved

As a noun, Primitive is defined as:

1a person belonging to a preliterate, non-industrial society: reports of travellers and missionaries described contemporary primitives
2a pre-Renaissance painter or one who imitates the pre-Renaissance style.

Allow me to digress, during my first visit to China, our tour guide, who was a graduate of the English Language told us about Chinglish; (Chinese-English) a word used to describe the common translation of Mandarin to English; which is almost always a literal translation. Several times, especially when ‘Google Translate’ is used, the sentence construction is wrong and there’s quite a bit of grammatival errors.

I believe that Korean Air had no intentions of abusing the Kenyan people in what they referred to as ‘primitive energy’.

I would like to however meet a Korean, to explain what the translation of “Primitive energy” means in Korean. I wouldnt be shocked if it read something like: Pure Energy, basic or unadulterated by the modern world.

Hence my blog title; Lost in Translation