Archive for September 9th, 2007

A Wee Post

We were up in Belfast yesterday doing some shopping. For going shopping for the day, Belfast is a far friendlier and more pleasant place than Dublin. Even the foreigners serving in shops and restaurants in Belfast are friendlier than those serving in Dublin.  Much of the population is on Prozac, and BBC Northern Ireland news is overseen by military personnel, but those are not the only reasons.

I wonder if Prozac has the effect of introducing use of the diminutive into people’s speech. I can’t recall, from the time when I used to go down to Belfast on a Saturday morning in the 1980s, any great amount of ‘here’s your wee receipt’ and ‘there’s a wee bag’ and ‘would you like a wee Big fries with your wee Big Mac?’

Voluntarist Economics

Still at the Indo, Jody Corcoran is blaming Brian Cowan for his failure to stiffen the spine of Ireland’s citizens.

Confidence in the economy is not hugely different from what Churchill offered his people at their darkest hour.

It may be worth pointing out that what Churchill offered his people at their darkest hour wouldn’t have had any lasting meaning were it not for the economic strength of the United States.

Meaning It

Perhaps one of you has a ‘hard copy’ of Friday’s Independent, and you can tell me which one of its doughty scribes wrote the following:

As the ambassador has probably learnt already, unlike Israelis, Irish people actually don’t mean what they say, or say what they mean. For we tend to use words like Arabs do, as a pose and a dramatic statement, not as a literal and analysable declaration of the truth.

Well, I think it’s a ‘literal and analysable declaration of the truth’ to say that whoever wrote this is a bit of a bell-end, and that he doesn’t actually mean what he says, but is in fact using his words as a pose and a dramatic statement. But because I’m Irish, there is no way of knowing if I mean what I say. In any case, I will repeat my assertion that whoever wrote this is a bit of a bell-end.

There’s a element of cowardice lying behind the use of racist characterisations of your own identified people as an alibi for your racist characterisations of other people. If I say that Muslims are congenital terrorists, this is not rendered any more acceptable by my observing at the same time that Northern Irish people are congenital terrorists. If a Cavan man says that Jews are miserly, should he be let off the hook because he is from Cavan?

Nice To Have A Military Man About The Place

Slugger O’Toole points to a rather interesting tidbit of information about one Michael Cairns, senior editor at the BBC and Commanding Officer in the RAF. In the Tele report linked on Slugger, it says:

His duties in the Squadron included media-handling work in Kuwait during 2003, in support of the RAF’s contribution to the invasion of Iraq. He subsequently received a medal for his Iraq-related service.

The BBC says that it is happy that there is no conflict of interest, and I for one believe them.

My Dieu and My Right

I was reading the transcript of the Bin Laden speech, I noticed that ‘Allah’ was used in the translation, instead of ‘God’. I know I’ve mentioned this phenomenon before, but I thought it worth cogitating over for another while.

Suppose you had a cadre of French Christian terrorists (implausible, but bear with me), and their leader gave a speech about how God had inspired them to blow up Madame Tussauds. Would it be a reasonable to leave ‘Dieu’ untranslated?

Let’s complicate this a little further by introducing the fact that previous English-speaking French Christian terrorist sympathisers often leave ‘Dieu’ untranslated themselves when they’re speaking to English-speaking audiences. What, then, is the correct approach to take when translating the words of a speech made in French that makes references to ‘Dieu’, when the ‘Dieu’ in question is the same as the one who appears in the Old and New Testament?

I would be inclined to translate it as ‘God’, since you’re not just translating things word by word, but attempting to bring the entire meaning of the speech across. That would mean translating, as far as possible, the impact of how all the words of the original are related to each other.

The question then remains of whether you should perform the additional task of rendering things in a register and vocabulary with which the target audience is familiar, or perhaps try and anticipate what the speaker might have said had he been standing before the target audience speaking in their native tongue.  I think that this sort of thing is moving beyond translation into something else: a sort of editorial service.

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September 2007