Traduttore = Traditore

September 21, 2011

First a few quotes, the first concerning how much trust we should put in certain kinds of news reports:

A report of the latest speech by the Iranian president … could … be attributed to a named journalist’s adaptation of a Reuter’s English-language wire originating in Kuwait based on a report in Arabic from Al Jazeera which had provided the information from listening to a radio broadcast in Farsi from Teheran.

The second pertains to a past disaster:

Bellos attributes the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War of 1870 to the false cousinage of the German word Adjutant, which referred to a high official, and the French adjudant, which meant only ‘sergeant-major’. When Bismarck announced that the French ambassador had been dismissed by a message from the Kaiser delivered by his Adjutant vom Dienst, Napoleon III took great (and calamitous) offence at his representative being seen off by what he assumed to be an NCO.

And here’s one last passage, dealing with one of translation’s greatest landmarks:

Not until the Pentateuch was translated into Greek, in the third century BC, by seventy-two bilingual Jews, did it reach a wide audience. Bellos says that they did their miraculously harmonious work in Paphos on Cyprus. Unless Bellos has new information, tradition has it that the scholars were sequestered on the lighthouse island of Pharos, a suitable spot for those whose work was destined to be a light to the Gentiles.

If those subjects appeal to you, you’ll eat up this review, and very possibly the book it treats.

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