Thursday, September 09, 2004

Found in Translation

When U.S. news reports are translated for foreign wire services, they often acquire a slant they don't get at home. What is played up tends to feed into the overseas impression of Americans as selfish, ignorant, bullies. Just read a German newspaper account of a Bush State of the Union speech.

But when foreign news stories get translated into English, an interesting thing happens.

Barcepundit offers this article is from the English version of EFE, the state-run Spanish news agency.

Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero called on the world community Thursday to take urgent steps to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the Iraq crisis.

After strongly condemning the wave of hostage-taking in Iraq, he said: "These events are part of a picture in which the world community and the United Nations must reflect on and agree on urgent political steps with respect to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict or the situation in Iraq."

And so forth. But that's not the lede on the same story in the Spanish version:

El presidente del Gobierno español, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, se ha mostrado favorable a que países que tienen en la actualidad tropas en Irak sigan la decisión de España de retirar sus efectivos militares de este país porque se abriría "una expectativa más favorable."

Which "Franco Alemán" at Barcepundit kindly translates for us:

Spanish Prime Minister, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, has pleaded the countries who currently have deployed troops in Iraq to follow Spain's decision of withdrawing their military forces from that country in order to open "more favorable prospects".

Sort of like the typical Arafat reaction to a Palestinian suicide bombing: denounce it and decry the violence -- but only in English. In Arabic, just nod and smile.