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Off topic: Translation goof, but a cute one
Thread poster: Taylor Kirk

Taylor Kirk  Identity Verified

Local time: 16:26
Portuguese to English
+ ...
Mar 7, 2009

Clinton's European debut is full of smiles

.By ROBERT BURNS, Associated Press Writer Robert Burns, Associated Press Writer – 1 hr 45 mins ago

In Geneva, Clinton's diplomatic skills were tested by an encounter with Lavrov, her Russian counterpart, who had a frosty relationship with Clinton's predecessor, Condoleezza Rice. The meeting produced no announced breakthrough, in arms control or other issues, but it seemed to set the stage for a new beginning in U.S.-Russian relations. Clinton aides cautioned that while the atmospherics were encouraging, it's too early to know whether the good feelings will translate to better relations.

Asked how they got along, Lavrov responded: "I venture to say we have a wonderful personal relationship."

It may have turned out well, but the Geneva meeting got off to an odd and awkward start.

With reporters looking on, Clinton met Lavrov and handed him a gift — a green box tied in green ribbon. He unwrapped it to reveal a "reset button," a lighthearted reminder of Biden's recent remark that the Obama administration is hitting the reset button with Russia after years of friction during the Bush administration.

Trouble was, the Russian-language label the Americans put atop the button had the wrong word. Before she realized the mistake, Clinton assured Lavrov her staff "worked hard" to get it right. Was it right? she inquired with a smile.

"You got it wrong," Lavrov responded, also smiling. He said the word the Americans chose — "peregruzka" — meant "overloaded" or "overcharged" rather than "reset."

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Amy Duncan  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:26
Portuguese to English
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Next time... Mar 7, 2009

...the White House staff should consult ProZ!

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Alp Berker  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 18:26
Turkish to English
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Personally I don't see it as being cute Mar 7, 2009

I see it more indictive as the sad state of affairs with regard to languages at the State Department and the view of languages overall in this country. It makes the US look bad over something over a gesture that was meant to show we "get it".
There is no excuse for getting this wrong.

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Local time: 00:26
English to Romanian
+ ...
In my opinion it is a serious mistake Mar 7, 2009

This mistake is very serious. If the staff responsible for translating a word in Russian got it wrong, imagine what could happen if they translate whole documents in the same manner, in the hope of getting it right.

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Melanie Nassar  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:26
German to English
+ ...
Cyrillic alphabet Mar 8, 2009

Surely someone at the State Department must be aware that Russian uses the Cyrillic alphabet. I realize that the gift was only meant to be a cute gimmick, but it could have been more meaningful if the translation had been correct AND written in the proper alphabet.

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Terry Gilman  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:26
Member (2003)
German to English
+ ...
Some additional comments in the Russian thread Mar 8, 2009*is*_the_right_translation_of_reset.html

I asked there because I was surprised the BBC didn't include the "right" translation in its report.

PS: I have off-topic threads included in my preferences, but didn't see this until today (March 8). Don't know why it didn't show up until tonight; sorry for the duplication.

[Edited at 2009-03-08 20:37 GMT]

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Nils Andersson  Identity Verified
United States
Member (2009)
English to Swedish
+ ...
Bungling amateurs! Mar 10, 2009

The message intended may have been good (opinions vary, of course) but the
message conveyed was: "We are bungling amateurs. You shouldn't take us
seriously, because we don't know what we are doing! And additionally,
we don't have the common courtesy of using your alphabet for your
language. We are both disrespectful and stupid at the same time!"

Does anybody have a traceback on who is responsible (other than
Hillary Clinton, who is ultimately responsible regardless)?
New bunglers brought in by the new administration? Or old bunglers,
holdovers from the previous administration? Both?

Nils Andersson

[Edited at 2009-03-10 00:46 GMT]

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