Sebelius: Our Spanish-language web portal is mucho buena, you betcha

posted at 9:21 am on February 18, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

Reporters from WFTV in Florida got a chance to ask Kathleen Sebelius about the Spanish-language portal on Healthcare.gov, which had been plagued with same functional problems as the main site but had mistranslations added to the confusion. It’s a good thing they asked their questions in English, because the HHS Secretary is muy malo at Español, as it turns out. While Sebelius assured reporters that the problems had been resolved, they kept finding even more issues when they checked the site themselves (via Daniel Halper):

Sebelius told Channel 9 a team of people are looking through the website to make sure the Spanish version is accurate, but Alvarez looked through it and found there’s a lot of work left to do.

“My understanding, it’s a much better user experience now,” Sebelius said. …

For “monthly payment,” the website uses the word “prima,” but to Nieves, it means “female cousin.”

Alvarez and Nieves looked through the Spanish version of HealthCare.gov and found sloppy translations are still to be found.

In one instance, the site reads, “Costo de bolsillo.”

“They’re trying to say, ‘Out of pocket cost,’ but they’re actually saying, ‘Cost of my pocket,’” said Alvarez.

“Exactly. It doesn’t make sense, does it?” said Nieves.

This looks like the kind of mistake that novices make when they try to learn a new language. They take idioms from English and create literal translations, rather than learn the cultural idioms of the new language for themselves. It also looks suspiciously like a computer-generated translation of the English-language text from the main site — perhaps provided by Google or Bing in a page display.

The reporters from WFTV thought that the latter might be the explanation, but Sebelius denied that computers were used for translations. Instead, Sebelius explained that jargon doesn’t translate well. No, seriously:

“Terminology in insurance is pretty arcane, even in English and… they probably didn’t have the smoothest transition into Spanish,” Sebelius said.

Er, how “arcane” are the terms “monthly payment” and “out of pocket costs”? I’d bet insurers in Mexico, Spain, and South America have found ways to express those concepts without resorting to “female cousin” and the cost of a pocket.

“Tonight, we’re hearing only excuses from Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius,” the report begins, “about sloppy translations on the Spanish version of the ObamaCare website.” That’s an accurate description of everything we’ve heard from the Obama administration about this debacle from the beginning.


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Flawless

Bmore on February 18, 2014 at 9:24 AM

“Ay, carumba!”

corona79 on February 18, 2014 at 9:24 AM

Perfecto ?

Bmore on February 18, 2014 at 9:25 AM

Sebelius: Mucho dumbo…

vnvet on February 18, 2014 at 9:26 AM

the Spanish-language portal on Healthcare.gov,

I wonder why we are overwhelmed by Hispanic illegal immigrants.

To be a citizen, don’t you have to speak English?

BuckeyeSam on February 18, 2014 at 9:28 AM

This looks like the kind of mistake that novices make when they try to learn a new language. They take idioms from English and create literal translations

I was telling my daughter the other day about Speedy Gonzales. He would shout “Andale, andale, arriba, arriba!”

While a Spanish speaker might say “Andale!” to get someone to hurry, they would likely not ever put “arriba” (up) with it like we do in English.

Occams Stubble on February 18, 2014 at 9:29 AM

Terminology in insurance is pretty arcane, even in English

So, people who speak Spanish don’t have words for buying insurance?

This woman has a skull full of guacamole.

DarthBrooks on February 18, 2014 at 9:29 AM

the HHS Secretary is muy malo at Español

Oh, the irony. The HHS Secretary is muy mala at español.

rogaineguy on February 18, 2014 at 9:30 AM

“I will not buy this health provider; it is scratched.”

“My deductible is full of eels.”

“Drop your coverage, Sir William, I cannot wait ’til lunchtime.”

JimLennon on February 18, 2014 at 9:30 AM

They really are this incompetent. It’s hard to believe.

Naturally Curly on February 18, 2014 at 9:32 AM

jargon doesn’t translate well

No, yours doesn’t. But everyone can see through your BS.

Patriot Vet on February 18, 2014 at 9:33 AM

“My understanding, it’s a much better user experience now,” Sebelius said.

Ah, the mushy “better user experience” standard.

BuckeyeSam on February 18, 2014 at 9:35 AM

Doesn’t she understand that saying it’s “mucho bueno”, when it’s actually “muy malo”, makes her look like an imbecile to the Spanish speakers in the US. Does she think they’ll just disregard the poor translations? What they’ll actually do is laugh at her as muy tonto.

TexasJack on February 18, 2014 at 9:35 AM

What’s stunning is how little they care and how much they know the media will cover their a$$.

aquaviva on February 18, 2014 at 9:35 AM

Is there a Chinese version too; what about Russian, Swahili, French, Urdu?

I see, so native speakers of those languages have to master either English or Spanish to use the sites?

Bishop on February 18, 2014 at 9:35 AM

El Stupido

Ditkaca on February 18, 2014 at 9:35 AM

I wonder why we are overwhelmed by Hispanic illegal immigrants.

To be a citizen, don’t you have to speak English?

BuckeyeSam on February 18, 2014 at 9:28 AM

Only Hispanic English.

Bitter Clinger on February 18, 2014 at 9:36 AM

Oh, the irony. The HHS Secretary is muy mala at español.

rogaineguy on February 18, 2014 at 9:30 AM

Ha! Well, “mucho buena” is bad on purpose. I’ll leave “muy malo” alone, but point taken.

Ed Morrissey on February 18, 2014 at 9:38 AM

Pay for Health insurance we don’t need to pay for no stinking health insurance, gringo!!!!! is why we all came here Illegally stupido.

2eagles on February 18, 2014 at 9:41 AM

es mierda

John the Libertarian on February 18, 2014 at 9:44 AM

Is there a Chinese version too; what about Russian, Swahili, French, Urdu?

I see, so native speakers of those languages have to master either English or Spanish to use the sites?

Bishop on February 18, 2014 at 9:35 AM

Yes, there is. And no, they don’t. We will accommodate them, of course. God forbid they speak English!

Other Language Resources:

Chinese
French
French Creole
German
Gujarati
Hindi
Korean
Polish
Portuguese
Russian
Spanish
Tagalog
Vietnamese

Patriot Vet on February 18, 2014 at 9:47 AM

Patriot Vet on February 18, 2014 at 9:47 AM

What, no Kenyanese or whatever the hell it’s called.

TXUS on February 18, 2014 at 9:50 AM

Yet another instance of something basic and everyday that the Obama administration cannot do properly, and then tries to spin instead of fix.

What a happy thing that the national clown shortage is shortly t be fixed, as administration officials are let go.

MTF on February 18, 2014 at 9:52 AM

Looks like El Bloombito got the translation contract, LOL

Jorge Bonilla on February 18, 2014 at 9:53 AM

What, no Kenyanese or whatever the hell it’s called.

TXUS on February 18, 2014 at 9:50 AM

I’m sure that will be in the next revision, along with Arabic, Somali, Uzbek and Aramaic.

Patriot Vet on February 18, 2014 at 9:56 AM

behold your Empire Leftists….

It has been reduced to touting a Spanish language
“portal” of a Government program…

Gather Leftists Please, and pontificate to the rest of us
Rubes how ANY Democrat should ever be elected to handing
out Dog Licenses in this Nation…

ToddPA on February 18, 2014 at 9:56 AM

What, no Kenyanese or whatever the hell it’s called.
TXUS on February 18, 2014 at 9:50 AM

Afrobonics?

Akzed on February 18, 2014 at 9:57 AM

Is there an Austrian version on the site?

texacalirose on February 18, 2014 at 9:57 AM

There is no pleasing you people! First you grumble about the high cost and delays associated with the ACA website, and then you complain when HHS uses Babelfish to shave $$$ from the translation contract.

You know, if Senator Cruz would lend a hand in content development instead of sabotaging the program the country would be better off.

The Insouciant Fedster on February 18, 2014 at 9:59 AM

I worked as a commercial producer for a television station that had a Spanish speaking sister station. Our sales staff thought it would be a dandy idea for me to create local commercials, in English, and then have them translated into Spanish. It doesn’t work. Common idiomatic expressions don’t directly translate. Play on words, double entendres and other “clever” writing styles used in commercials – won’t translate properly. In fact, I had three different Spanish speaking producers try to assist me with the translations – and ended up with three different results.

Case in point – look at how “prima” is defined on this site.

Hill60 on February 18, 2014 at 10:00 AM

Reset!

Lanceman on February 18, 2014 at 10:01 AM

What’s stunning is how little they care and how much they know the media will cover their a$$.

aquaviva on February 18, 2014 at 9:35 AM

BINGO – we have a winner! (Or, should I have said, BINGO – tenemos un ganador! Also discovered that bimbo, like bingo, is the same in English and Spanish according to the Google Translator – just saying.)

CPRforAmerica on February 18, 2014 at 10:03 AM

You know, if Senator Cruz would lend a hand in content development instead of sabotaging the program the country would be better off.

The Insouciant Fedster on February 18, 2014 at 9:59 AM

What’s he gonna do? Translate it into Canadian?

Lanceman on February 18, 2014 at 10:05 AM

Sadly,….

……no LizardPeopleVoter dialect thingy!!

canopfor on February 18, 2014 at 10:05 AM

Patriot Vet on February 18, 2014 at 9:47 AM

I don’t see Sanskrit, Latin, or Assyro-Babylonian, are those speakers expected to die because they can’t access the website?

To her credit though, Frau Syphilis announced they are creating a Braille version of the site for blind people.

Bishop on February 18, 2014 at 10:05 AM

ACA debe morir.
Squishy Vichy Rs, sadly, won’t let that happen.

Royal Fizzbin on February 18, 2014 at 10:06 AM

Spanglish!

Brat on February 18, 2014 at 10:08 AM

Which Canadian company got the translation contract?

myiq2xu on February 18, 2014 at 10:12 AM

WFTV is the same station that broadcast the interview by Barbara West of Joe Biden back in 2008, when she asked him about the accusations that he and Barack Obama were socialists and Joe Biden got really pissed off.
Obviously WFTV is some sort of subversive, ultra-right-wing, TEa Party TV station and they bear watching by the NSA.

bugsy on February 18, 2014 at 10:19 AM

Sometimes you need more than Google translate.

ctmom on February 18, 2014 at 10:22 AM

“I will not buy this health provider; it is scratched.”

“My deductible is full of eels.”

“Drop your coverage, Sir William, I cannot wait ’til lunchtime.”

JimLennon on February 18, 2014 at 9:30 AM

I happen to speak dirty Hungarian.You want matches and your hovercraft has pre-existing conditions. Bouncy Bouncy. My premiums explode with delight!

Buttercup on February 18, 2014 at 10:27 AM

Somewhere there has to be a button(s) on the Spanish version that says:
a) If you would you like free citizenship in the US, then sign up for ObamaCare.

b) Register to be a Democrat party voter here.

c) Special offer to illegals in America: sign up for free ObamaPhone, Foodstamps and ObamaCare here.

albill on February 18, 2014 at 10:28 AM

All your coverage are belong to us.

bugsy on February 18, 2014 at 10:29 AM

Ahh Google translator, what an app.

jake49 on February 18, 2014 at 10:33 AM

Somewhere there has to be a button(s) on the Spanish version that says:
a) If you would you like free citizenship in the US, then sign up for ObamaCare.

b) Register to be a Democrat party voter here.

c) Special offer to illegals in America: sign up for free ObamaPhone, Foodstamps and ObamaCare here.

albill on February 18, 2014 at 10:28 AM

Oh – those portions of the site work just fine! It’s the other, healthcare related parts of the site that need twerking tweaking.

Hill60 on February 18, 2014 at 10:34 AM

For “monthly payment,” the website uses the word “prima,” but to Nieves, it means “female cousin.”

If Obamacare costs an arm and a leg in English, maybe Hispanic people need to sell their cousins to afford it!

If the HHS really wants to sell this mierda to Hispanics, why didn’t they hire native Spanish-speakers to translate it?

Catalina Sebelius, que se vaya!

Steve Z on February 18, 2014 at 10:41 AM

Obamacare: no se puede!

Steve Z on February 18, 2014 at 10:46 AM

Sebelius is la reina de la muerte

22044 on February 18, 2014 at 10:46 AM

My sister and her family went to Russia last summer, and they saw some hilarious translations into English, like a menu that referred to chicken breast as chicken boob.

You really do need to watch those idioms.

juliesa on February 18, 2014 at 10:51 AM

Not to throw cold water on all the funnin’ on Sebelius, but why exactly do we have any expectation of a public servant that she speak any language other than English?

I get that she’s stupid for TRYING to speak Spanish when she clearly can’t, but do we really want to support the idea that officeholders not connected with the State Department must be bilingual? And that the additional language defaults to Spanish?

James on February 18, 2014 at 10:52 AM

Ah, nevermind…she’s making excuses for people whose job actually is knowing Spanish.

James on February 18, 2014 at 10:55 AM

Our only hope is that the Federal Government’s grasp of Spanish is so awful that it’s easier for immigrants just to learn English.

TexasDan on February 18, 2014 at 10:58 AM

Obamacare is also going to illegal aliens, via Covered Cal: Obamacare Recruiting Illegals in California

slickwillie2001 on February 18, 2014 at 11:06 AM

Yes, there is. And no, they don’t. We will accommodate them, of course. God forbid they speak English!

Other Language Resources:

Chinese
French
French Creole
German
Gujarati
Hindi
Korean
Polish
Portuguese
Russian
Spanish
Tagalog
Vietnamese

Patriot Vet on February 18, 2014 at 9:47 AM

No Romulan or Klingon!? Now I am offended.

hawkeye54 on February 18, 2014 at 11:08 AM

Teller of untruth, your trousers have combusted.

CurtZHP on February 18, 2014 at 11:11 AM

Sebelius: Mucho dumbo…

vnvet on February 18, 2014 at 9:26 AM

Are you saying Sebelius is a large flying elephant? Oh, well, I can understand; “idiot” is one of those arcane insurance jargon words that doesn’t translate well.

ajb3 on February 18, 2014 at 11:12 AM

They really are this incompetent. It’s hard to believe.

Naturally Curly on February 18, 2014 at 9:32 AM

I am still scratching my head over how Hillary Clinton, with all the resources at her disposal as Secretary of State, wasn’t able to translate one single word “reset” into Russian properly. Yep, it’s hard to believe. Not just incompetent, but something more, like a “We-don’t-have-to-do-anything-right-because-we’re-the-government-and-we’re-in-charge-so-learn-to-love-it-you-filthy-peons” kind of incompetence.

ajb3 on February 18, 2014 at 11:20 AM

Is there a Chinese version too; what about Russian, Swahili, French, Urdu?

I see, so native speakers of those languages have to master either English or Spanish to use the sites?

Bishop on February 18, 2014 at 9:35 AM

As soon as you come up with evidence that those nationalities vote overwhelmingly for the Demcratics, we’ll get that taken care of.

slickwillie2001 on February 18, 2014 at 11:21 AM

“Exactly. It doesn’t make sense, does it?”

El Reporter comprende (the whole enchilada)

NOMOBO on February 18, 2014 at 11:23 AM

What, no Kenyanese or whatever the hell it’s called.

TXUS on February 18, 2014 at 9:50 AM

No Kenyanese, but I understand the SCOAMF translated it himself to Austrian.

NOMOBO on February 18, 2014 at 11:24 AM

Nurse Ratched s/b in prison, for at least 10 good reasons.

Schadenfreude on February 18, 2014 at 11:31 AM

For “monthly payment,” the website uses the word “prima,” but to Nieves, it means “female cousin.”

Ummmm, not just to Nieves. To all Spanish-speaking people.

Oh well. Just a few website problems, right? And as one of our sages reminds us:

Ed –
You mean the websites aren’t working perfectly on day one two three four five six seven eight nine ten eleven twelve thirteen fourteen fifteen sixteen seventeen eighteen nineteen twenty twenty-one twenty-two twenty-three twenty-four twenty-five twenty-six twenty-seven twenty-eight twenty-nine thirty thirty-one thirty-two thirty-three thirty-four thirty-five thirty-six thirty-seven thirty-eight thirty-nine forty forty-one forty-two forty-three forty-four forty-five forty-six forty-seven forty-eight forty-nine fifty fifty-one fifty-two fifty-three fifty-four fifty-five fifty-six fifty-seven fifty-eight fifty-nine sixty sixty-one sixty-two sixty-three sixty-four sixty-five sixty-six sixty-seven sixty-eight sixty-nine seventy seventy-one seventy-two seventy-three seventy-four seventy-five seventy-six seventy-seven seventy-eight seventy-nine eighty eighty-one eighty-two eighty-three eighty-four eighty-five eighty-six eighty-seven eighty-eight eighty-nine ninety ninety-one ninety-two ninety-three ninety-four ninety-five ninety-six ninety-seven ninety-eight ninety-nine one hundred one hundred one one hundred two one hundred three one hundred four one hundred five one hundred six one hundred seven one hundred eight one hundred nine one hundred ten one hundred eleven one hundred twelve one hundred thirteen one hundred fourteen one hundred fifteen one hundred sixteen one hundred seventeen one hundred eighteen one hundred nineteen one hundred twenty one hundred twenty-one one hundred twenty-two one hundred twenty-three one hundred twenty-four one hundred twenty-five one hundred twenty-six one hundred twenty-seven one hundred twenty-eight one hundred twenty-nine one hundred thirty one hundred thirty-one one hundred thirty-two one hundred thirty-three one hundred thirty-four one hundred thirty-five one hundred thirty-six one hundred thirty-seven one hundred thirty-eight one hundred thirty-nine one hundred forty one hundred forty-one
verbaluce on October 1, 2013 at 10:18 AM

(H/T NotCoach)

There Goes the Neighborhood on February 18, 2014 at 11:42 AM

This woman has a skull full of guacamole.
DarthBrooks on February 18, 2014 at 9:29 AM

Please don’t besmirch guacamole that way.

Marcola on February 18, 2014 at 11:44 AM

You mean … she lied?

Note to Journalist’s:
If you like an interview with Sebelius, but can’t get one, just put a positive & untruthful spin on all answers to your questions, call that an interview and then publish. In the end, it’s all the same.

Carnac on February 18, 2014 at 12:02 PM

Of course, no one asks, why is there even a Spanish language version? Did Congress pass a law making English and Spanish both official languages?

Nutstuyu on February 18, 2014 at 12:28 PM

To her credit though, Frau Syphilis announced they are creating a Braille version of the site for blind people.

Bishop on February 18, 2014 at 10:05 AM

My monitor already has lots of bumps on it. But I think they’re from dried spit-takes.

Nutstuyu on February 18, 2014 at 12:32 PM

What’s he gonna do? Translate it into Canadian, eh?

Lanceman on February 18, 2014 at 10:05 AM

FTFY…

JohnGalt23 on February 18, 2014 at 12:48 PM

There is no pleasing you people! First you grumble about the high cost and delays associated with the ACA website, and then you complain when HHS uses Babelfish to shave $$$ from the translation contract.

You know, if Senator Cruz would lend a hand in content development instead of sabotaging the program the country would be better off.

The Insouciant Fedster on February 18, 2014 at 9:59 AM

No, No. This comment was fielded by Nancy Pelosi.

Q:Why is it so hard to get a company to execute that competently?

PELOSI: “It’s not my responsibility.”

So, it’s all good. Thanks for checking though…. /sarc

-west

mr_west on February 18, 2014 at 1:00 PM

Yet another instance of something basic and everyday that the Obama administration cannot do properly, and then tries to spin instead of fix.

What a happy thing that the national clown shortage is shortly t be fixed, as administration officials are let go.

MTF on February 18, 2014 at 9:52 AM

Don’t insult the clowns.

The difference between a clown and a joke is that the jokes are all in government.

BKennedy on February 18, 2014 at 1:27 PM

Para Espanol oprima dos:

Hola, y Beinvenidos a la website’ a la Las Ladiola “Sebelius.” Clicke’ un botton nombre tres por doctor. Buenos nachos. Hasta banana!

Allahs vulva on February 18, 2014 at 1:33 PM

ROFL! It’s amazing how dense this admin has proven to be. By taking such a lackadaisical approach to implementation of what they have promoted as a “legacy” for this admin, they’ve succeeded in alienating demographic groups they direly needed for the website to have any chance of succeeding.

I’ll just write this one up as something to be thankful for.

lineholder on February 18, 2014 at 1:42 PM

English is destroying the Spanish language.

The Justice Department will soon announce that using Spanglish is a hate crime….and then exempt the Affordable Care Act.

MichaelGabriel on February 18, 2014 at 2:01 PM

I’m sure they don’t have competent translators. Any one of the excellent ones I worked with in court would have been cheap enough and could do it in a couple of days.

But the money for these websites, IMHO, was hoovered up by the bundlers and donors who got the contracts. They could not care less about the final result.

PattyJ on February 18, 2014 at 2:01 PM

Actually, the last sentence Ed wrote pretty much sums up the last 5 years.

Kissmygrits on February 18, 2014 at 2:05 PM

You’d think Obama would have the Austrian version up by now.

John the Libertarian on February 18, 2014 at 2:09 PM

Please don’t be so hard on Kathy and those who support the program in FL, after all it would be very hard to find anyone who speaks Spanish in Florida, right?

Pardonme on February 18, 2014 at 2:38 PM

While a Spanish speaker might say “Andale!” to get someone to hurry, they would likely not ever put “arriba” (up) with it like we do in English.

Occams Stubble on February 18, 2014 at 9:29 AM

It makes more sense to say ¡Ahí va! instead of arriba — they sound pretty similar, maybe the producer misheard his Spanish language consultant.

techno on February 18, 2014 at 2:44 PM

the HHS Secretary is muy malo at Español

Oh, the irony. The HHS Secretary is muy mala at español.

rogaineguy on February 18, 2014 at 9:30 AM

You’re assuming she’s female.

de rigueur on February 18, 2014 at 2:46 PM

Why languages other than English? Only encourages separation and it a huge cost to China, from whom we borrow more money.

Wade on February 18, 2014 at 3:31 PM

Por qué otros idiomas además del inglés? Sólo los alienta a separación y es un enorme costo en China, desde los cuales podemos pedir más dinero.

Wade on February 18, 2014 at 3:33 PM

We are to believe the person who brought us the healthcare roll out OVER the congressional budget office? Then again those 18000 IRS agents hired and 100,000′s of other healthcare.com people hied to work this mistake sure dose offset many real people that lost their jobs. Take away the Government add/on workers and see what kind of numbers you get. They again lie to us by using averages and generality.

jpcpt03 on February 18, 2014 at 4:20 PM

Sebelius es una gran estupida comecaca.

For those of you who don’t speak Spanish, you MUST understand that the same word can have many meanings, depending on the country. Sometimes I think we should have a Spanish-(insert country here) collection of dictionaries. What’s a regular, decent word in one country, can be a deadly insult in other. For example, a cuero in Mexico means a good-looking woman. In the Dominican Republic it means prostitute. Tell a Mexican his wife/girlfriend is a cuero, and he’ll thank you. Tell that to a Dominican, and you’ll be going either to the hospital or the morgue. The examples are countless.

conservative hispanic on February 18, 2014 at 5:20 PM

The site has a jokes (chistes) section too:

si te gusta su médico se puede mantener

If you like your doctor … that’s a classic!

virgo on February 19, 2014 at 12:02 AM