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Wednesday 22 January 2003

Dangers of Translation

Jacques Chirac is quoted by CNN today as saying “As far as we’re concerned, war always means failure,” which is an interesting point of view.

Certainly, when international relations becomes a matter of people from one country shooting guns at people from another country, something has gone wrong. You might say that was means a failure of diplomacy, but saying that “war always means failure” is just fatuous.

Chirac was mis-translated, though. What he actually said was “La guerre est toujours un constat d’échec”, which means, literally, that war is always an establishment or acknowledgement of failure.

So Chirac said not “war always means failure”, but “war always means an admission of failure.” This is a much less idiotic statement than the CNN translation because, yes, going to war is an admission that what you’ve done to avoid war has failed.

Posted by tino at 22:43 22.01.03
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