The Russian president Dmitry Medvedev has issued a statement on the Kremlin web site about a controversial highway construction project through the Khimki Forest. This post is not about the issue itself but about the language of the statement. No doubt it was first issued in Russian and then translated into English.
Be that as it may, I spotted a sentence with no less than 73 words in Medvedev’s release:
Despite the fact that the Government adopted a separate resolution on the construction of a motorway, and despite the fact that this issue was addressed in our judicial system and relevant rulings have been made, yet, our people, namely, representatives of various political parties, ranging from the ruling United Russia party to the opposition parties, as well as representatives of public associations and various expert circles say that this issue requires further analysis.
Say what? That is some qualified gobbledygook that you have to read several times to understand. I think the president wants to say that he is not so sure the highway through Khimki Forest is a good idea and he is not the only one with doubts. That is why he has ordered the project to be suspended and reviewed again.
If that is what he meant, why did he not say so in plain language?
I am quoting Secretary Clinton according to the US State Department’s official blog (Boldface added by me.):
This follows on the work that we began over the last many months to transform the relationship between our two countries, to find common ground wherever we can, to further mutual respect and mutual interests, without in any way accepting the fact that there are not differences between us, because there are.
Wait a minute! I know that diplomatic language is tricky but this one takes the cake. There are three statements in the last boldfaced part of the sentence which are partly contradicting each other. Namely:
- It is a fact that there are “not differences between us“, i.e. Russia and USA.
- Russia and USA do not accept that fact.
- There are differences between Russia and USA.
So would somebody please explain whether there are differences or not and if there are not, do the two countries accept it or not. Or do they accept that there are differences but pretend there are not?
Tags: translation, welsh
Nid wyf yn y swyddfa ar hyn o bryd. Anfonwch unrhyw waith i’w gyfieithu.
Even a child would know that this message would not translate as
No entry for heavy goods vehicles. Residential site only.
That is, any Welsh speaking child would know that it is an automated e-mail reply saying
I am not in the office at the moment. Please send any work to be translated.
Swansea council wanted a road sign to be translated into Welsh and they apparently e-mailed it to a translator who was not in the office at the moment. Unfortunately, the off message actually ended up onto a road sign.
Bilingual signs are good but it sure pays to have somebody with knowledge of both languages to have a look at them before posting.
On point of view of military troops deployed in fighting there is hardly a difference if you call what they are involved in a war or something else. As their options on the ground limit to killing the enemy or getting killed, it is a war as far as the troops are concerned. However, paragraph twisters may have a different view.
StoiBär posts a link to a radio interview (mp3 file, BR 2) with Andreas Paulus, professor of international right in Göttingen University. I am sure professor Paulus has an opinion about what German troops in Afghanistan experience as a war but I am not quite sure if he thinks it is a war or not. I am inclined to agree with StoiBär that there is a connection with my earlier post about banning the German language.
I also agree with a comment added to a post in Buchstaeblich seltsam that lawyers can produce ununderstandable sentences in any language but the structure of German language combined with the notorious concept of Deutsche Gründlichkeit makes that lingo an outstanding source of headaches which should be banned as a health hazard. Mind you, now I managed to write an almost mile long sentence myself.
I have always regarded the German language as a health hazard. With its mile long sentences the lingo is a major source of headache and may even contribute to an outbreak of Altzheimer’s. The most notorious abusers of the language are, of course, lawyers.
I am not at all surprised to detect (via Margaret Marks) that there are even manuals that train legal professionals to express themselves as vaguely as possible. A perfectly understandable and logical message can not be sent as it is:
Sie zahlen seit drei Monaten keine Miete. Wir sind die Anwälte von Herrn Müller und warnen Sie: Wenn Sie die 1.500 Euro bis zum 15. Dezember nicht überwiesen haben, wird Herr Müller Ihnen fristlos kündigen!
The manual shows five detailed steps to make it a source of headache. The final result looks like this:
Sehr geehrter Herr Schmitz,
wir zeigen Ihnen gegenüber hiermit unter anwaltlicher Versicherung ordnungsgemäßer Bevollmächtigung und unter Hinweis auf die in Kopie anliegende Vertretungsvollmacht die Übernahme der gerichtlichen wie außergerichtlichen anwaltlichen Beratung und Vertretung unseres Mandanten Peter Müller in sämtlichen mietvertragsrechtlichen Angelegenheiten an. Grund unserer Einschaltung ist der Umstand, dass unsere Mandantschaft im Zusammenhang mit dem zwischen Ihnen als Mieter und unserer Mandantschaft als Vermieter am 01.06.2002 geschlossenen Mietvertrag über die in der Schillerstraße 5, 12345 Musterstadt, 3. Obergeschoss links gelegenen Wohnmieträume die Feststellung treffen musste, dass Ihrerseits bislang auf die zum 01.05., 01.06. und 01.07.2008 fällig gewordenen monatlichen Mietzinsraten an unsere Mandantschaft keinerlei Zahlungsleistungen erfolgt sind, weshalb wir von dieser nunmehr beauftragt wurden, Sie unter letztmaliger und nicht weiter verlängerbarer Fristsetzung bis zum 15.12.2008 zur Vermeidung einer andernfalls durch uns namens und im Auftrag unserer Mandantschaft ohne weitere Vorwarnung auszusprechenden fristlosen, außerordentlichen Kündigung des zwischen Ihnen und unserer Mandantschaft bestehenden, oben näher bezeichneten Wohnraummietverhältnisses aufzufordern, die aufgelaufenen, rückständigen Mietzinszahlungen auf das Ihnen bekannte Bankkonto unserer Mandantschaft bei der Sparkasse Brotzingen, BLZ 123 456 78, Kontonummer 987 654 321 ungekürzt zur Anweisung zu bringen.
I am considering to table a citizen’s motion to the EU to ban the usage of German within EU.
As this example from the Olympic Beijing illustrates, it may be a good idea to check out the output of a web based translating service before you rely your business on it. 🙂
Tags: google translate
Google Translate has added Finnish to the supported languages. That is great. All they need to do now is to figure out how the bot could produce understandable translations.
This is what Google Translate returns as I feed in a passage of my own text:
The proposal is a positive, the fact that it would mean a confessional religious education end of the story. At that time, however, the question arises as to whether it is religion in your subject no longer make any sense. The different religions and their ethical views could be presented as part of the history and civic education. Säästyisi scarce resources; religion is not now such an important asia is not that it will complete a subject taught to justify.
Another language learning method.
Tags: blair, elisabeth, sarkozy
Your reporter once had a boss in Brussels, many years ago, who came from a generation of Englishmen who learned technically perfect French but believed that it was somehow actorish and unmanly to speak it with anything except a full-strength British accent.
I combined some video footage just to demonstrate that English and French actually sound so similar that you could just as well call it Frenglish. At least the language spoken by Mrs. Windsor, Mr. Blair and Mr. Sarkozy.
Keep your eyes out of you know where and just listen to what she has to say!
Vodpod videos no longer available. from youtube.com
Tags: Business, customer service, new yorker, tallinn
The German clothes retailer New Yorker recently opened a store in Tallinn but failed to recruit local personnel, Estonian TV reports. Most of the sales persons speak fluent German and wooden English but no Estonian at all. After a number of customer complaints the governmental Language Inspection detected that only seven of the 21 employees are capable of serving customers in Estonian.
The New Yorker store apparently opened before recruiting suitable local sales personnel. The Language Inspection issued an injunction saying that New Yorker must bring their operation into accord with the Estonian Language Act by tomorrow.
The Canadian Department of National Defence has temporarily closed their photography web site featuring Canadian soldiers, sailors and air force personnel. The downloadable pictures have been taken by military photographers. The site was closed because it was “not fully bilingual”.
New Democratic Party MP Yvon Godin, the party’s critic for official languages, complained the commands for downloading photos from the page were available only in English and the accompanying French-language captions were poorly translated.
“I didn’t ask them to close the website. I asked them to repair it,” Godin, who represents the New Brunswick riding of Acadie-Bathurst, told CBCNews.ca. “I just wanted it fixed.”
It has been said that one picture tells more than thousand words but you apparently need more French words to match a picture.
Tags: english, readability
I am happy to land at the high school level (I take it that this means the American high school). Since most of what I write is not intended to or even suitable for children, it is more than likely that most of my regular readers are above high school level.
It is important that people understand each other. It may even be a matter of life and death.
via Seanchai Stories
Support Estonia is a Ukrainian language blog which provides historical facts, propagates the Estonian point of view, displays symbolic images together with HTML tags to insert them and suggests some Estonian companies whose products it would be a good idea to buy if you want to help them compensate the unofficial Russian boycott. I find starting this blog a superior act of solidarity. It provides accurate information in a language otherwise dominated by disinformation colored by Moscow.
via Peeter Marvet
Edit: Another Ukrainian site, Qermitorium, also endorses Estonian products hit by the Putin-Jugend boycott.
via Silver Meikar
Edit: One more Ukrainian site to support Estonia: Maidan.org
via Punane Hanrahan