Generally people think of interpretation and translation as a way to solve problems. Here’s a story from St. Paul that proves just the opposite can be true as well.
In Dialect dispute has St. Paul Hmong group calling for Dai Thao to quit; he wants FBI probe, St. Paul Pioneer Press reporter Fred Melo describes a language dispute within the Hmong community over an inscription in Hmong near a Chinese garden pavilion at Lake Phalen.
The flare up is a dialect issue between speakers of Green Hmong and White Hmong, who disagree over whether the correct spelling of what is recognized in English as “Hmong,” should on the stone inscription be “Hmoob” in White Hmong, or “Moob” in Green Hmong.
St. Paul City Councilman Dai Thao stepped into the fight by asking on Facebook why the Green dialect version appeared on the stone. For his trouble he was met with protestors outside city hall who demanded his resignation. Thao said that he had been physically threatened for expressing his opinion, and asked for an FBI investigation.
As if all this weren’t enough, the story is entwined with a Chinese sister city, the cartoonist Charles Schulz, Charlie Brown, Lucy, a Chinese American friendship society, plus Hmong ex-military men seeking a return to a Hmong republic to be established somewhere in South East Asia. Needless to say, the piece is well worth a read for anyone who has ever had a document translated into Hmong.