Thursday, 10 May 2007

Farfour free to burn - II - Poor translation?

An anonymous lengthy visit

An anonymous and hence invisible person albeit from Colorado, USA left a comment on my blog pertaining to Farfour free to burn where presumably a child had offered herself as a martyr to annihilate the Jews.

I am no Arabic scholar and I have no knowledge of the language apart from the numbers which I learnt in a thick Yoruba accent from Keu (Madrassa) students in Nigeria.

Apparently, it appears most of the conversation reported might have been lost in translation and thereby we have ended up with a story a lot worse than what was portrayed.

It however then begs the question why the Minister of Information in the Palestinian government asked for the show to be discontinued, extracted a promise to present a different format and roundly condemned the content of the parts that were broadcast.

Other respectable Palestinian broadcasters also expressed displeasure at the content.

In fact, the commentator portends that Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) an organisation based in Washington D.C. which is supposed to bridge the language gap between the West and the Middle-East had committed egregious atrocities in translation which could be deliberate with the view to excite negative review.

Being one who would always bring to the fore any comment that requires airing to bring balance to the topics I introduce, I publish here the full text of the comment left by Anonymous of Colorado – (I know where all comments come from).

If I have erred, I apologise, not meaning to cause offence to anyone, only to highlight issues of concern.

The comments

I would like to point out what can only be called an egregious mistranslation on the part of MEMRI with respect to the words of one of the children who were featured as a caller on the show this story reports on.

I call it that and not simply a mistake, because a MEMRI spokesperson appeared on CNN to confirm his organization standing by its translation "word for word" and "according to the syntax" even though it is easy for an organization that employs Arabic translators to actually see how wrong the translations that were produced at first are.

The transcript claims that "Sanabel", the little girl caller of the show, responds with "I will shoot" to the host's question "Sanabel, what will you do for the sake of the Al-Aqsa Mosque?"

As a matter of fact, and as can be seen in the video, it is the clown in the ridiculous Mickey Mouse like suit that says that and even makes the gesture of carrying a weapon.

The little girl Sanabel does however respond, but MEMRI omits her response. The little girl actually said in Arabic "bedi arsem soora", which means "I will draw a picture."

So this girl says she wants to draw a picture, and MEMRI transforms that to "I will shoot."

The second example is the most outrageous one, where MEMRI translates the little girl Sanabel's response to the question "we got that, what else?" as saying "We will annihilate the Jews." This is outrageously wrong and completely invented.

The girl can be clearly heard saying in Arabic "betokhoona el yahood", which means "the Jews shoot us."

The word "betokh-oo-na" can be broken down part by part and explained easily as follows:

betokh: the verb "shoots"

oo: the 3rd person plural subject pronoun meaning "they". It becomes "they shoot".

na: the 1st person plural object pronoun meaning "we". It becomes "they shoot us"

Having pointed that out, what the producers of this show are doing is morally outrageous. Instead of giving their children viewers the joy of watching child TV characters and enjoying that aspect of childhood, they are depriving them of that just as the Israeli occupation is depriving them from other aspects of normal childhood development. Both are equally wrong here.

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