FEEDBACK FROM THE FIELD: A Disaster, by Any Other Name

March 2004 (VOL. 22, NO. 1)

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My interest in words and their meaning, as well as the problems I have confronted with translation and interpretation in several languages in the fields of both engineering and disaster management for more than fifty years, have prompted me to research the etymology of the word disaster and its translation in languages other than English as well as its linguistic, etymological, cultural and social connotations. This paper does not pretend to be a learned treatise on the subject, nor does it concern itself with the sociological or disaster research and management definitions of disaster. In this paper I will only attempt to reflect my interest in words and the potential pitfalls of the translation processes.