“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone. “It means just what I choose it to mean — neither more or less.”
“The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”
“The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master — that’s all.”
— Lewis Carroll, from Alice in Wonderland
Humpty Dumpty is definitely the master of official European Union public discourse. As I mentioned in my previous post, words — in the service of multicultural ideals — have assumed a new fluidity and flexibility in Brussels.
And now Humpty Dumpty has taken on a new job as the official translator of EU documents. This is from an article in the BBC:
EU effusion ‘lost in translation’
Sharp-eyed professors have spotted what they say is evidence of “political translation” of the EU’s Berlin Declaration, agreed at the weekend.
Both the Danish and English versions downplay the emotional language of the original German, they say.
Instead of saying that the EU member states are united in “happiness”, they say that they have united “for the better”, or “for the best”.
An EU spokesman said the texts had been agreed by the national governments.
“We, the citizens in the European Union, are united zu unserem Gluck “, the German-language version of the declaration reads. The phrase can be rendered in English as “united in our fortune/happiness”.
By contrast, the English-language version reads: “We, the citizens of the European Union, have united for the better”.
While in the Danish version, the word “Gluck” has been replaced with “‘vor faelles bedste” meaning “for the best”.
Professor Henning Koch from Copenhagen University told the Danish paper Politiken the low-key translation could be no coincidence.
“It would come as a big surprise to me if the translators are bad at German. So then it’s a political translation,” he said.
It’s no secret that public opinion in Britain and Denmark is, at best, tepid about the European experiment. The French voted non to the EU Constitution as well — I wonder what their translation looks like…?
Professor Rudinger Gorner, head of the German department at Queen Mary, University of London… said there was also a subtle difference in that the English version “suggests something happening in the future”.
“Yet again, it’s an attempt on this side to downplay things wherever possible.”
Forbidden words… doctored translations… a soft blanket covering the media…
As Fjordman has said, it’s “Glossocracy”.
Hat tip: Kepiblanc.