Tuesday, May 15, 2007

More on MEMRI'S forgery

Here is an update on MEMRI’S flawed translation of Aqsa TV children show. In here I include more analysis on MEMRI’S manipulative choice of English words as well as full comparative translation text of the entire clip in Arabic and MEMRI’S English and the correct English Translation.

One major point included in the transcript (Thanks Hamza) is couple of words uttered by “Sanable” the girl on the phone which were left out by MEMRI, but included in here.
MEMRI left out the words (I want to draw a picture) said by the girl on the phone.

I did not conclude, after watching more clips of the show on Al-Aqsa TV, provided by MIMRI, that Farfoor was pretending to be Mickey Mouse, the Disney character, a point emphasized over and over by Israeli spokesman and MEMRI and was the point in some TV stories in the US media.
Farfoor ( a play-word that comes from the Arabic word “ Far” which means mouse) was simply wearing a Mouse costume in Tuxedo outfit.

The clip provided by MEMRI looked disjointed and without contextual continuity and integrity which lead me to think that there was some cherry-picking by MEMRI in piecing together selective clips that will provide a proof or evidence to a certain argument or stereotype. In so doing we are left to rely on MEMRI’s version of the story without having access to the original video in its entirety and contextual continuity and integrity.

This is problematic especially when translating/interpreting words from one language to another without the benefit of considering other factors that will make or doom any work of interpretation.
Since translation is not simply transferring words from language A to language B, it also involves advanced knowledge of the culture, religious references, historical past and political history.

Take for example the Lebanese opposition leader Walid Jumblaat when he was giving a speech in Beirut, on Feb 14th, of last year. The anniversary was of Lebanese PM Harriri Assassination and was carried live by CNN.
Jumblaat was giving a fiery speech against the Syrian president Bashar Asad, calling him among other names that he was from the “Hashasheen”.

The word Hashasheen is Arabic plural for people who use Hashish, a drug. But was Jumblaat calling Asad a drug addict or a drug user!

Of course the word “Hashasheen” was translated at CNN as “Assassins” for any other translation would have rendered the whole sentence wrong in meaning and in context, and even perhaps drawing protest from Jumblaat himself for misinterpreting him.

The reason for this choice was because the English word “Assassin” is of Arabic origin and came from the word “Hashasheen” “Hashasheen was a Shia organization headed by “Hasan Sabah” in the 12th century in northern Iran and spread terror and “assassination” against Muslim state officials throughout the Muslim world. The assassin normally used Hashish before his mission perhaps knowing that this would also mean his death as well.

Moreover, the Lebanese leader Jumblaat is an avid reader, an intellectual and has a degree in history so I am assuming that he was knowledgeable of this kind of historical data. Hence, I suppose, his reference to Asad as “Hashasheen” and on top of all that the anniversary was the “Assassination” of former Lebanese PM Hariri. So the word fits in nicely in meaning and in context.

Therefore there was no way that Jumblaat was calling Aasad a drug user or a crack head! Even thought that’s what it literally means! 

Based on what I have seen from MEMRI so far, they simply cannot claim to be professional or accurate in their translation of Arabic for they are not only non-native speakers who are educated in the ins and outs of the Arabic culture and history, but also treat the work of translation as a fishing expedition.

Though I am not making the argument here that only native speakers of Arabic can do translation work of Arabic, but it helps that the translator is native, an educated and expert in different aspects of the culture of that language.

Manipulation of words and interpreting them for self serving purposes is another aspect I uncovered when comparing Arabic words as they were uttered by speakers and their English translation and interpretation by MEMRI.

For example Yegal Carmon head of MEMRI said on Glen Beck’s show when commenting on the young caller on the phone “Sanable” saying “I’ll be a myrtar” by saying that “we know that this means “suicide bombing” This of course couldn’t be further from the truth. And note (see my previous piece for the transcripts) how MEMRI injected the word “Commit” with the word “Martyrdom” as in drawing a psychological association with the phrase “Suicide bombing” where Hamas and other Islamists call it “Martyrdom operation”

In MEMRI’S interpretations and state of mind, any reference to ‘Martyrdom” is “committing suicide bombing” a deliberate ignorance or deliberate manipulation.

The fact is that when the young caller said “I’ll be a martyr” she is not saying “I am committing” but rather “I am defending” the key word here is here is “defense” and the reason for that is simple “I’ll be a martyr” as in to die for my country, because from a cultural and Islamic religious point of view and law, to be a martyr, one has to die in Defense of his family, property, religion and country. Adding or omitting the word “commit” would put the phrase in an entirely different light.

The work of the interpreter is to get as close and as accurate to the original word in its native utterance as meant by the speaker; not to spin it to suit the interpreter or translator motives.

Also the whole story revolved around a key phrase which was “ we want to annihilate. The Jews”

As I pointed out previously that such phrase was never uttered in the segment posted on MEMRI’S website. But the words “annihilate the Jews” carries with them a huge psychological and horrific meaning especially in the western or European collective psyche for the horrors committed by the Nazis against the Jews and others in Europe.

In fact I have yet to hear any Arabic speaker say the Arabic sort-of equivalent of the word “Annihilate” because it is not part of the political discourse or even in the terrorist or extremist terminology. And after asking some Arab journalists colleagues with over 30 years of experience in the Arabic press, they too said that they never heard any speech or written statement that refers to "finish" of or “annihilate the Jews” Because it does not exist.The only Arabic word I can think of that is close to the word annihilate is ( Ibada) which is normally used with insects as in “ insecticide” ( Mubid Hashari)

MEMRI Clip No. 1442

A Mickey Mouse Character on Hamas TV Teaches Children about Islamic Rule of the World



Black text: Arabic Transcript.
Blue text: Arabic transcript written in English alphabet.
Green text: My English translation.
Red text: MEMRI’s English translation.
Highlighted red text: Wrong MEMRI English translation.

سراء: سنابل، إنتي شو حتعملي .. يعني .. من أجل الأقصى؟ شو حتفدي .. يعني روحك من أجل الأقصى؟ شو حتعملي؟
Sarraa’: Sanabel, enti shoo hate’mali ... ya’ni ... min ajl el-Aqsa? Shoo hatefdi ... ya’ni roohek min ajl el-Aqsa? Shoo hate’mali?
Sarraa’: Sanabel, what are you going to do ... like ... for the sake of Al Aqsa? What are you going to sacrifice ... like your soul for the sake of Al-Aqsa? What are you going to do?
MEMRI: Sanabel, what will you do for the sake of the Al-Aqsa Mosque? How will you sacrifice your soul for the sake of Al-Aqsa? What will you do?

فرفور: حطـُـخ.
Farfour: Hatokh.
Farfour: I will shoot.

سنابل: بدي أرسم صورة.
Sanabel: B’di arsem soora.
Sanabel: I’m going to draw a picture.
MEMRI: I will shoot

فرفور: إيش حنعمل يعني كيف إحنا بدنا يا سنابل إنحرر ..
Farfour: Aish hane’mal ya’ni kaif ehna bedna ya sanabel enharrer ...
Farfour: What are we going to do ... Sanabel, like how are we going to liberate ...
MEMRI: Sanabel, what should we do if we want to liberate...

سنابل: بدنا انقاوم.
Sanabel: Bedna enqawem.
Sanabel: We are going to resist.
MEMRI: We want to fight.

فرفور: و بعدين؟ هادي حفظناها و بعدين؟
Farfour: Wo ba’dain? Hadi hfeznaha, wo ba’dain?
Farfour: Then what? We already know this one, then what?
MEMRI: We got that. What else?

سراء: إحنا بدنا..
Sarraa’: Ehna bedna …
Sarraa’: We are going to …
MEMRI: We want to...

سنابل: بطخّونا اليهود.
Sanabel: Betokhoona el yahood.
Sanabel: The Jews will shoot us.
MEMRI: We will annihilate the Jews.

سراء: إحنا بدنا اندافع عن الأقصى بأرواحنا و بدمائنا، ولاّ لأ يا سنابل؟

Sarraa’: Ehna bedna endafe’ an el-Aqsa b arwa7na wo b dema2na, wella la’ ya Sanabel?
Sarraa’: We are going to defend Al-Aqsa with our souls and blood, or are we not Sanabel?
MEMRI: We are defending Al-Aqsa with our souls and our blood, aren't we, Sanabel?

سنابل (صوت غير واضح): بدي استشهد
( أو - سنابل: باستشهد )
( أو - سنابل: بنستشهد )
Sanabel (audio not clear): Bdi astash-hed.
( Or – Sanabel: Bastash-hed )
( Or – Sanabel: Bnastash-hed )
Sanabel (audio not clear): I’m going to become a martyr. [Literally: I want to become a martyr]
( Or – Sanabel: I’ll become a martyr )
( Or – Sanabel: We’ll become martyrs )
MEMRI: I will commit martyrdom.


Hamzah said...

Thanks for the update and you excellently illustrate the point that translating words correctly is not an easy task and when MEMRI makes such simple mistakes, it is either showing its extreme inability to do what it claims to be its objective (which is providing accurate translations), or showing that it simply does not care for accuracy at all, which is more likely the case here.

By the way, I am reading Amin Maalouf's "Crusades Through Arab Eyes," and he talks in length about the Assassins sect. What a coincidence that you would choose that to make your point! :)

N. said...