CHAMPAIGN, IL (WCIA) — The Illini Union Bookstore issued a campus-wide apology after translating and printing “Hail to the orange” in other languages on t-shirts. The problem? Many shirts didn’t make sense.
The phrase was transcribed through Google Translate and was translated, and printed, incorrectly. “Bright the orange,” “Hail with a fruit,” and “Hailstones for oranges” were just some of the phrases that were printed on these shirts in other languages.
Several students expressed concern about the issue on social media. They asked t-shirt makers why they didn’t simply utilize the school’s foreign language departments on campus.
“Yeah, it’s kind of disrespectful to see the language be translated in a weird way and people are making fun of it,” said graduate student Xiaoye Zhang.
Shortly after these shirts hit store floors and the online marketplace, students started expressing concern, even poking fun, at whoever made them. Comments started circulating on Twitter and Reddit, reaching a point where the Illini Union Bookstore eventually released an apology, confirming it made a mistake when translating a portion of the school’s alma mater.
“The Illini Union Bookstore would like to apologize for issues with the translations on the international Illinois t-shirts we have in stock,” the apology read in part.
So, we went to campus to see how students are reacting to the apology.
“As an international student, I do appreciate that they can take a stab to like, make a t-shirt with all the languages,” Zhang said. “Because I feel like a lot of international students, their parents, they don’t know English, so if they can like, see their children wearing t-shirts in their native language, that would be good.”
The phrase “Hail to the orange” was translated in 13 different languages and available to buy online and in person. But the shirts have since been removed from the sales floor and the bookstore’s website.
The bookstore’s statement went onto to say it never had any intention of offending students’ culture. The intention was to celebrate the school’s rich diversity and international community.
The bookstore’s full statement can be read below:
The Illini Union Bookstore would like to apologize for issues with the translations on the international Illinois t-shirts we have in-stock. In our excitement and haste to be able to offer these unique shirts to our customers, we didn’t do our due diligence in verifying the translations that were provided. We will learn from this mistake and work to do better in the future. Our intent was to celebrate the diversity and international community of the University of Illinois. We sincerely apologize for missing the mark. The shirts have been removed from our sales floor and online at this time.Illini Union Bookstore