Off topic: Berlusconi blames the translator
Thread poster: Chris Hopley

Chris Hopley  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 16:50
German to English
+ ...
Jul 3, 2003

Typical! The excrement hits the ventilator and the translator gets the blame...

"I know that in Italy, there is a man producing a film on Nazi concentration camps - I shall put you forward for the part of guard". ... So far the Italian leader has refused to retract his remarks. He said his comments had been an ironic joke which the translators had failed to convey.
Full story at BBC News Online



[Edited at 2003-07-03 10:12]


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PAS  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:50
English to Polish
+ ...
Lighter?? Jul 3, 2003

No offense to you, Chris, but I'd wonder about this being the "lighter side of translation"...
we're right up there with comets, black cats and other assorted misfits.

Cheers,
Pawel Skalinski


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Lorenzo Lilli  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:50
German to Italian
+ ...
:-( Jul 3, 2003

He said his comments had been an ironic joke which the translators had failed to convey.

Translators - and especially interpreters - have been getting the blame for thousands of years, haven't they? One must be masochistic to choose this job!


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Narasimhan Raghavan  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:20
English to Tamil
+ ...
Let us analyze the Italian original and the English translation as if we are an agency checking Jul 3, 2003

Let us analyze the Italian original and the English translation as if we are an agency checking the translation of a prospective panel translator. It should not be difficult to get at the entire original as well as the translated texts. Fellow members of the Proz.com, who are very fluent in the nuances of both the languages could come forward and do this in the forum. I translate from Italian into English but not vice versa. I am hardly qualified to do justice to this exercise. If the translator, whoever it is, is vindicated, we should feel cheered.
There is already the depressing story of the inadequate Japanese to English translation leading to a misunderstanding and the dropping of the Little Boy on Hiroshima, way back in 1945. And then during the Presidency of Nixon, when he said:"As I left the USA...", his Polish interpreter said: "As I deserted the USA..".


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schmurr  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:50
Italian to German
+ ...
depends on the earphones… Jul 3, 2003

I saw it on TV, and B. did try to put on an as ironic tone as possible, even to the point of exaggerating. But even if the earphones made it impossible to hear this, his slant posture and extremely broad grin made clear to everybody how he intended it.
I think his mistake was that he thought if you are ironic, you have the right to insult anybody in any possible way, which he regularly does in Italy…

[Edited at 2003-07-03 13:16]


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Lorenzo Lilli  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:50
German to Italian
+ ...
which story? Jul 3, 2003

There is already the depressing story of the inadequate Japanese to English translation leading to a misunderstanding and the dropping of the Little Boy on Hiroshima, way back in 1945. (quote)


I've never heard of it, could you tell me what happened? Thanks


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jmadsen  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:50
Cross-cultural communication Jul 3, 2003

I think his mistake was that he thought if you are ironic, you have the right to insult anybody in any possible way, which he regularly does in Italy.

This is not really a case of bad translation (as WE all know), but a case of bad diplomatic skills and bad cross-cultural communication.
Mr B - along with many others from large language areas - exhibits poor diplomatic skills and a lack of understanding for other cultural areas and modes of conduct.
As a man of the world in general and a EU president in particular, one should weigh ones words very carefully and think twice when making rash statements that could very possibly offend MEPs.


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langnet  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 16:50
Member (2002)
Italian to German
+ ...
B. disqualified himself Jul 3, 2003

Jørgen Madsen wrote:

I think his mistake was that he thought if you are ironic, you have the right to insult anybody in any possible way, which he regularly does in Italy.

This is not really a case of bad translation (as WE all know), but a case of bad diplomatic skills and bad cross-cultural communication.
Mr B - along with many others from large language areas - exhibits poor diplomatic skills and a lack of understanding for other cultural areas and modes of conduct.
As a man of the world in general and a EU president in particular, one should weigh ones words very carefully and think twice when making rash statements that could very possibly offend MEPs.


Bravo! Nothing more to add!


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Jean-Marie Le Ray  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 16:50
Member
Italian to French
+ ...
Original words Jul 3, 2003

Hi Narasimhan

Narasimhan Raghavan wrote:

Let us analyze the Italian original and the English translation as if we are an agency checking the translation of a prospective panel translator. It should not be difficult to get at the entire original as well as the translated texts. Fellow members of the Proz.com, who are very fluent in the nuances of both the languages could come forward and do this in the forum. I translate from Italian into English but not vice versa. ...


There are the orginal words of Berlusconi :

"In Italia un produttore sta facendo un film sui campi di concentramento nazisti. La proporrei come kapo".

That's all.

Jean-Marie

P.S. No way to find nuances...


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Narasimhan Raghavan  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:20
English to Tamil
+ ...
A very sad story indeed Jul 3, 2003

Japan was fighting a losing battle. It was August 1945. VE day was already over. Around that time USSR declared war on Japan and occupied some islands. Truman sent some word to the Japanese containing an offer to accept the surrender of the Japanese. The proud Japanese people, as every one knows put a great value to saving face. The reply contained a verb meaning "consider". This was translated as "reject" into English by, let's face it, one of our brother translators. The Americans dropped the first atom bomb christened "Little boy" on Hiroshima in the first week of August 1945 followed by the one on Nagasaki 3 days later. Then the Japanese surrendered with the stipulation that their king will continue to be the the Head of Japanese Government. Now that you have asked me, I told this story in detail. If some of the Proy.com Japanese translators can retrace the particular Japanese word lending itself to this wrong translation, it will serve better to warn us people to hbe more vigilant. If on the other hand they assure me that what I wrote never happened, I will be the happiest person in the world for being proved wrong in this matter.



Lorenzo Lilli wrote:

There is already the depressing story of the inadequate Japanese to English translation leading to a misunderstanding and the dropping of the Little Boy on Hiroshima, way back in 1945. (quote)


I've never heard of it, could you tell me what happened? Thanks




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Narasimhan Raghavan  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:20
English to Tamil
+ ...
I agree with you Victorhugo Jul 3, 2003

The sentence seems unambiguous and cannot be translated otherwise. Somebody was mentioning that he was grinning while saying this. Even if he was grinning or rolling on the ground laughing and slapping the ground with his hands while uttering the above words,the words are insulting, it appears to me.

victorhugo wrote:

Hi Narasimhan

Narasimhan Raghavan wrote:

Let us analyze the Italian original and the English translation as if we are an agency checking the translation of a prospective panel translator. It should not be difficult to get at the entire original as well as the translated texts. Fellow members of the Proz.com, who are very fluent in the nuances of both the languages could come forward and do this in the forum. I translate from Italian into English but not vice versa. ...


There are the orginal words of Berlusconi :

"In Italia un produttore sta facendo un film sui campi di concentramento nazisti. La proporrei come kapo".

That's all.

Jean-Marie

P.S. No way to find nuances...


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Thierry LOTTE  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:50
Member (2001)
English to French
+ ...
Over Jul 3, 2003

Have just heard on satellite TV that S. Berlusconi officially apologized for what he said.

It is obvious that it were not the mistake of the translator.

Political men are sometimes irresponsable (in all countries).

Now that things have been clarified I suggest that we should terminate this thread which could lead us to endless arguings without any positive results.

It is well known that the translators/interpreters are always "wrong".
Nothing new under the sun...


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Chris Hopley  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 16:50
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
taproom humour Jul 3, 2003

Marijke Mayer wrote:
the floor of European Parliament is not exactly the place to crack a misplaced joke


This is exactly it. You can say that sort of thing quite happily in your own house or with your friends down at your local watering hole. A democratic forum of elected representatives is not the place to cast "ironic" aspersions on your fellow man. Maybe the guy is autistic...


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Henry Dotterer
Local time: 10:50
SITE FOUNDER
Closing the thread Jul 3, 2003

Thierry LOTTE wrote:

It is well known that the translators/interpreters are always "wrong".
Nothing new under the sun...


Speaking of the Japanese example, I don't know either whether it happened or not, but I can imagine the challenge being akin to guessing what someone means when he says "I'll think about it." To hazard a guess in the situation discussed, one would have had to weigh not only cultural factors, but also such things as the diplomatic language of the day and the strategic intentions of the authors.

Probably it would have been better to not guess at all, and simply convey the "I'll think about it" faithfully--perhaps with annotations--but then critics would accuse the translators of not properly accounting for cultural bias.

Always wrong, indeed.

On that note, I will close the thread.


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