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#974: HUD Pamphlet a Phonetic Fumble (fwd)
Wednesday November 17 5:53 AM ET
HUD Pamphlet a Phonetic Fumble
By MILDRADE CHERFILS Associated Press Writer
MIAMI (AP) - Federal officials hoping to inform Haitian residents in
the Creole language about subsidized housing have delivered a pamphlet
written in an imitation Jamaican dialect.
It's a tough read:
``Yuh as a rezedent, ave di rights ahn di rispansabilities to elp mek
yuh HUD-asisted owzing ah behta owme fi yuh ahn yuh fambily,'' the
What the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development was trying to
say was: ``You as a resident have the rights and the responsibilities to
help make your HUD-assisted housing a better home for you and your
The pamphlet, titled ``Rezedents Rights and Rispansabilities,'' came to
the attention of government officials after a citizen questioned its
contents. It had been signed by HUD's top executive, ``Sekretary Andrew
M. Cuomo fella.''
The pamphlet was intended to inform residents in Section 8 HUD housing
of their rights, responsibilities and the resources available from HUD.
Translations were printed in nine languages and Braille.
Haitian Creole, the national language of Haiti, is based on French,
while Jamaicans read and write standard English. The presumed language
of the HUD document is the spoken Jamaican dialect - translated
More than 5,000 copies of the supposed Creole pamphlet were printed
this summer, according to the Government Printing Office, the official
printing arm of the U.S. government commissioned by HUD to do the work.
``We don't translate and we don't print,'' said HUD spokeswoman Ginny
Terzano. ``That's why we pay the government offices to do the services
and do them properly.'' About 719 copies were sent to federal government
document depository libraries. Neither HUD nor GPO knew if others
were distributed to the general public. Leonie Hermantin, executive
director of the Haitian American Foundation in Miami, said she was
thankful government officials were at least trying to include the
Haitian community in government documents. But, she said, the printing
mix-up raised another issue altogether.
``They really don't know about the resources in the community such as
certified Haitian translators in Miami and in New York who could have
provided the services with more accuracy,'' she said Tuesday.
Once HUD drew up plans for the pamphlets, the printing office then
hired a private contractor in Buffalo, N.Y., Thorner Press, to translate
and print them. Thorner subcontracted for the translations with Cosmos
Translations and Interpretations, a Toronto, Ontario-based translator.
The supposed-Creole translation was then sent back to GPO, which relayed
it up to HUD. ``To the best of my knowledge this appears to be a
Haiti-type Creole. OK to print,'' HUD employee Silvia A. Millier wrote
on the proofs, according to the GPO. Andy Sherman, a GPO spokesman,
said that once HUD signed off on the pamphlet's proofs, the final
authorization had been given to print the documents.
``We're printers, we're not linguists,'' he said. ``When a customer
says, `OK to print,' they're saying `This is what we want.'''
HUD withdrew the pamphlet immediately after it came to their attention.
Only $1,000 was spent on the imitation dialect printing, Sherman said.