Monday, 31 October 2011

Soeren, I like your work and I hate to sound churlish. But if you're going to keep using the translations I publish on this site as the basis for large parts of your articles, I think the minimum courtesy I can reasonably expect is a link to my blog. You've done it several times and I let it pass but now you're doing it again today. (Original here.)

Yes, I can see that you've changed the odd word here and there in an attempt to disguise it. But I am a professional translator. I know the dozens of small choices that can go it to rendering even a single line or paragraph into another language. I know that if you gave these lines or paragraphs to 100 different translators you would get 100 different versions back. And therefore I know the idea that you translated these articles yourself and just happened to arrive at exactly (or almost exactly) the same constellation of choices I did is about as likely as the chance that I am going to be hit by a rogue asteroid this evening.

If there were no links at all in your article, I could understand it. But that you should provide links to the original article but not my translation of it, the same translation you are quoting from, strikes me as morally objectionable. As does the fact that you declined to let my comment appear on your web page. You'll let my translation appear but not my comment?

I'm glad that you find my work useful. I'm even glad that you can get paid for using it (assuming you are paid for your role as a Senior Fellow) while mine is unremunerated. I absolutely encourage anyone to copy anything I post on this site and use it anywhere for any purpose. Even Muslims are welcome to use it in order to critique 'islamophobes' if they want. I think, however, that the minimum standard of etiquette required is a link to the source. Or do you fear that your 'mainstream' credibility will be tarnished by a link to a "crazy blogspot islamophobe"?

UPDATE:
In a comment below, Nicolas Giroud claims Kern's version is more accurate than mine. OK. Let's go through it in detail, line by line.
Original: “Si rares sont les individus radicalisés au point de soutenir les jihadistes, le fondamentalisme aurait progressé au point de gagner la majorité de la population musulmane.”

My translation: If individuals who have been radicalised to the point of supporting the jihadists are rare,fundamentalism has progressed to the point where it has won over the majority of the Muslim population.

Kern: "even if the number of individuals who have been radicalized to the point of supporting the Jihadists is relatively low, Islamic fundamentalism has progressed to the point where it has won over the majority of the Muslim population".

Comment: Kern adds the word “Islamic” here. It’s not in the original text.
Original: « Cette mosquée ne se veut que comorienne, lieu d’un islam empreint de tribalisme (…). D’évidence, l’existence de cet endroit est un obstacle direct à la bonne insertion des Comoriens dans l’espace marseillais, sorte de marginalisation volontaire »

My translation: “This mosque only wants to be Comoran, an Islamic locale imprinted with tribalism....It is clear this site is a direct obstacle to the proper integration of Comorans in the Marseilles area, a kind of voluntary marginalisation."

Kern: "Far from being Comorian, this mosque promotes Islam marked by tribalism. It is clear that this mosque is a direct obstacle to the proper integration of Comorians in the Marseilles area, a kind of voluntary marginalization," the document states.

Comment: Kern translates “Cette mosquée ne se veut que comorienne“ as “Far from being Comorian”. This is a serious mistake, which conveys the exact opposite of the original meaning, which I correctly rendered as “This mosque only wants to be Comoran”. The original emphasises its Comoran nature; Kern’s translation downplays it.

The next clause - “lieu d’un islam empreint de tribalisme” – he translates as “this mosque promotes Islam marked by tribalism”. I translate it as “an Islamic locale imprinted with tribalism”. The French text is literally “place of an Islam imprinted with tribalism”. There’s nothing about “promote”. Kern changes the “place” to “mosque”. However, the “tribalism” in the original does pertain to the Islam rather than the place so perhaps Kern’s choice is better than mine here.

In the last sentence, Kern translates “endroit” (place or site) as “mosque”. An inaccurate translation, even if that is what is meant in the original.
Original: « loin d’éveiller les spiritualités et les esprits, cela les enferment encore davantage dans une boucle culturelle et accroît d’autant leur repli communautaire ».

My translation: "far from awaking spirituality and minds, it closes them even further into a cultural loop and thus increases their communitarian inwardness."

Kern: "Far from awaking spirituality and minds, it locks them even further into a cultural loop and thus increases their communitarian inwardness."

Comment:Both “lock” and “close” are valid translations of “enfermer”. That is the only difference here.
Original: « population fragilisée, peu informée et peu cultivée y compris sur les préceptes de sa propre religion, se retrouvant entre les mains d’imams auto-proclamés, guère plus compétents que leurs ouailles mais suffisamment charismatiques pour obtenir leur suivisme ».

My translation: "marginalised population, poorly informed, uncultured and with a limited understanding even of their own religion, finding themselves in the hands of self-proclaimed imams, barely more competent than their flocks but sufficiently charismatic to obtain their blind obedience."

Kern: "marginalized population, poorly informed, uncultured and with a limited understanding even of their own religion, finding themselves in the hands of self-proclaimed imams, barely more competent than their flocks but sufficiently charismatic to obtain their blind obedience."

Comment: no difference other than the change to American spelling. What an amazing coincidence.
Original: « L’abondance de salles à Marseille est en majeure partie le reflet de divisions de tous ordres, obédientielles, aussi bien que nationalistes, ethniques voire affairistes qui opposent les musulmans marseillais».

My translation: The large number of prayer rooms in Marseilles is in large part the reflection of the divisions of all the orders, sect-based, as well as of the nationalist, ethnic, and even business perspectives that set Muslims in Marseilles against one another. "

Kern: "The abundance of prayer rooms in Marseille is largely a reflection of divisions of all kinds: obediential as well as nationalistic, ethnic and even business strategies that set Muslims in Marseille against each other."

Comment: Kern’s “the abundance” sounds unidiomatic to me. My “all the orders” is admittedly a bit clunky too. Still, the only significant difference here is my use of “sect-based” compared to Kern’s “Obediential”. “Obediential” is a word that would not be understood by most English speakers so I use “sect-based” as another way of rendering the same meaning. In the next segment, Kern, too, uses “sect” as a translation of “obédience”.
Original: La solution proposée ici est de « reconcentrer les lieux de culte » ce qui « permettrait une professionnalisation des imans, des économies d’échelles, forcerait les fédérations et les obédiences au consensus et éloignerait les intérêts extra-nationaux, facilitant en outre les rapports et l’observation par les partenaires institutionnels. Non pas plus de mosquées mais mieux de mosquées. »

My translation: “The solution proposed is to "reconcentrate the places of worship" which would "allow a professionalisation of the imams, economies of scale and would force the federations and sects towards a consensus and would marginalise extra-national interests, also facilitating relations and observations with our institutional partners. Not more mosques but better mosques.”

Kern: "refocus the places of worship" which would "permit a professionalization of the imams, achieve economies of scale and force the Islamic federations and sects to reach a consensus. It would marginalize extra-national interests and also facilitate relations and observations with our institutional partners. Not more mosques but better mosques."

Comment: Kern inserts the word “Islamic”, which is not in the original. “Refocus”, although a reasonable translation, I think is more ambiguous than “reconcentrate” as in English it would normally indicate a change in orientation or strategy rather than a physical reduction in numbers, which is what is meant here.

Original: « Cette construction dominant tout un secteur à l’habitat par ailleurs peu élevé, visible de la plupart des artères principales environnantes et appelant à la prière par un signal lumineux, est généralement considérée comme agressive au point qu’un référendum local sur le sujet pourrait donner des résultats à tout le moins équivalent et peut-être même plus prononcés que la votation organisée dans la confédération Helvétique l’année dernière ».

My translation: "This structure dominating a whole residential sector which is also not very elevated, visible from most of the surrounding main roads and performing the call to prayer with a luminous signal, is generally considered aggressive to the point where a local referendum on the subject would give results at least equivalent and perhaps more emphatic than the voting organised in the Swiss confederation last year."

Kern: "This building would dominate an entire part of the city which is not very elevated. It would be visible from most of the surrounding main roads and would perform the call to prayer by using a massive beam of light that would be seen across Marseille. The mosque is generally considered aggressive to the point where a local referendum on the matter would give results at least equivalent and perhaps more emphatic than the voting organized in the Swiss confederation last year [the Swiss vote to ban minarets]."

Comment: Kern translates “tout un secteur à l’habitat” as “an entire part of the city”. I translate it as “a whole residential sector”. Kern has left out the meaning of “à l’habitat”, referring to the housing or residential element.

Kern translates “un signal lumineux” as “a massive beam of light”. I translate it as “a luminous signal”. There is nothing in the French text about “massive” nor is there anything about a “beam of light”. It says light signal. The text doesn’t specify what kind of light signal it is. Maybe it’s a beam of light, batman-style; maybe some other kind of light that doesn’t project outwards. Perhaps Kern happens to know from other sources that it is a “massive beam of light” but that information is definitely not in the French text. His translation is inaccurate.
Original: « Il est intéressant d’observer que la plupart des musulmans trouvent naturel pour un Etat d’organiser la pratique religieuse, au besoin par des mesures fortes, et que beaucoup font même souvent part de leur incompréhension de la neutralité de la France en la matière ».

My translation: "It is interesting to note that the majority of Muslims find it natural for a state to organise religious practice, with strong measures if necessary, and that many of them even declare that they do not understand the neutrality of France in this matter."

Kern: The document concludes by stating that Muslims in France appear to want the state to intervene in religious matters: "It is interesting to note that the majority of Muslims find it natural for the state to organize religious practice, even by force if necessary, and that many of them even declare that they do not understand the neutrality of France in this matter."

Comment: Koeren translates “au besoin par des mesures fortes” as “even by force if necessary”. I translate it as “with strong measures if necessary”. Mine is more accurate. “by force” is bit of an exaggeration.

In conclusion, Kern’s translation has almost certainly been adapted from mine. The similarities are too great to be coincidence. He has made some changes and many of those changes introduce inaccuracies. There is only one place where Kern’s version is arguably more accurate than mine. There are many places where his version is inaccurate. He inserts words that aren’t there, like “Islamic”. You could say this is relatively benign in that it is there to aid understanding. There is a convention for doing this however. When adding words to a quoted or translated text to aid understanding, the convention is to put the newly added words in square brackets so the reader knows they are not part of the original. Kern does not do this.

He also adds new meanings that are not present in the original. He changes "place" to mosque and the like. He writes of a “massive beam of light” when the French text speaks only of a “light signal”. He also gets one clause 100% wrong, reversing its original meaning, changing “this mosque only wants to be Comoran” to “Far from being Comoran”.

So, Nicolas Giroud, you are wrong. Kern's version is not more accurate than mine. It's not even a matter of opinion. It just isn't. I have demonstrated that his version is significantly less accurate than mine.

You also say his greater accuracy could be assumed because he uses his real name and therefore would suffer personal consequences if he made mistakes. OK. I've just demonstrated that he made mistakes, including one serious one. What consequences has he suffered or do you expect him to suffer because of it? The answer is none.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

better yet Soeren Kern could pay you to provide him with translations!

Anonymous said...

i've compared both translations to the original text in french and as a french-canadian i think soeren's version is more accurate than is cheradenine's version.

i'm not taking sides here, but i think that sometimes cheradenine "exaggerates" his-her translations by adding words, phrases and-or ideas-concepts into the text. it becomes therefore more of an interpretation than an exact translation of the original text.

of course, "cheradenine" is a fake identity so he-she can get away with this.

i've googled soeren kern's name and i see he uses his real name when writing. so does bruce bawer, pamela gellar, robert spencer, mark steyn, elisabeth sabaditsch-wolff, stefan herre, lars hedegaard, daniel pipes, geert wilders and many many more writers-defenders of european-western democracy. even the infamous "fjordman" now uses his real name. "cheradenine" does not.

by using their real names, these authors-writers have much more at stake in a professional and personal sense than does "cheradenine zakalwe" who hides behind the false identity of a 1990s science fiction character. authors who use their real names usually have more credibility with their readers and they also tend to get paid for their work.

this is not to denigrate in any way the work that "cheradenine" has done or is doing, which is of course very valuable or otherwise i would not bother commenting on his-her blog.

nicolas giroud

Cheradenine Zakalwe said...

Please give examples of where I exaggerate or introduce ideas.

Anonymous said...

thank you for proving my point that we are talking about two different translations here.

thank you also for investing so much of your time on this important matter.

nicolas

BunBun4life said...

FFS, if you use her translations, just say so; nobody gives a shit.

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