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03 April 2012

Voice of Russia and the King of Swaziland’s cows

It ought to be a matter of shame that the Russian state broadcasting station, Voice of Russia (VoR), is not only not able to translate its own stories into reasonably fluent English, as I have pointed out in several previous posts (e.g. 14, 24 February and 6 March), but apparently cannot even précis material originally presented in English.
King Mswati III, one of the richest
monarchs in the world,
has nine wives and is absolute ruler
of one of the poorest
countries in the world
     I draw this conclusion from today’s story about the King of Swaziland, Mswati III, who is shortly to turn 44 and who has asked some of his provincial governors to give him cattle to be slaughtered for a feast in his honour.
     “Chiefs from the Shiselweni region, where the celebrations will be held, will have to canvas their subjects for cattle to be slaughtered for the king,” notes iAfrica, the sub-continent’s leading current affairs website, from which it appears VoR took its story. The item is reproduced more or less verbatim in a number of other South African news sites. Only Voice of Russia manages to mangle it. The beasts, it says, “will be sacrificed in honor of feast (sic).”
     First, the cattle will not be “sacrificed”, a verb which implies a religious ritual; they will be slaughtered, which is the word to use when animals are killed for eating, disease prevention or other reasons. Secondly, they are to be killed in honour of the King, not of “the feast”. The feast is, itself, to be held in honour of the King.
     I have sacrificed my time in order to make these points in honour of the English language (and have ignored several factual errors in the précis, like the face that it is the Shiselweni chiefs who have been ordered to provide the cattle, not “his subjects”, as VoR says). Perhaps I should reward myself with a thick steak.

1 comment:

  1. Dear Ian, hope you haven't heard this Russian joke before (and I belive you know Russian enough to understand it):

    Two gentlemen meet somewhere in London
    - How much watch?
    - Six wathces.
    - Such much watch?
    - For whom how!
    - MGIMO finished?
    - Ask!

    Most of mistakes appear because person who writes (or translates) text picks the very first word from the dictionary.

    Writer just took those news from one of Russian sources and there was word 'пожертвовать' wich doesn't have any religious meaning in Russian adays.