Thursday, October 26, 2006


When to Translate

I notice in the media they have a tendancy to translate some words from foreign languages but leave others untranslated, e.g. "Mahdi Army" rather than "Jaish al Mahdi" or "Army of the Messiah". To translate "Jaish" into army (or alternatively into militia) is not neutral ... it's making a statement as to whom these people are. It also is not neutral to leave Mahdi untranslated ... leaving an un-translated Mahdi gives people a very different (and exoticized) image of who this militia is rather than translating Mahdi to it's nearest English equivalent would.

So when should the media translate terms from foreign languages and when should they not? Should the media try to preserve neutrality? If so, how? Or should the media strive to give people a familiar perspective on the world? Should the media try to keep foreign terms exotic or try to make them familiar?

I don't know the answers here ... does anybody? I know Bueller doesn't ;)

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