Monday, January 16, 2006

Honk if you enjoy personal guarding

Despite all my reservations about Ha'aretz (often described as "Israel's New York Times", but compared to Ha'aretz the NYT is a responsible, conservative publication), I must admit they put together a serious, quality newspaper.

At least in the original Hebrew edition. The English edition has been problematic since its founding about a decade ago. It's generally even more left-wing than the Hebrew original, often trimming inconvenient balancing material from the translated articles.

But more important than its bias slant, there is the minor matter of language. Ha'aretz in English reads like it's been translated by a team of trained monkeys. Native Israeli monkeys, at that.

Next to simultaneous translation, translating the web edition of a daily newspaper must be one of the most challenging jobs for a translator. But that's no excuse for publishing gibberish and calling it English.

Take today's short item about Netanyahu's new job as leader of the Knesset opposition. Writes the translator:
Netanyahu is replacing Peretz because he now heads the largest opposition faction, which counts 27 MKs. Labor only counts 21 MKS.

Funny. I didn't know parliamentary factions could count. Presumably the Likud numbers 27 MKs, etc. (I'll forgive them that pronoun/antecedent problem...)

Then we learn this tidbit, apparently about Netanyahu's hobbies:
...the opposition leader enjoys personal guarding...

Sounds fun! What on earth is "personal guarding"? A form of martial art?

Not quite. The whole sentence reads:
According to law, the opposition leader enjoys personal guarding, which Netanyahu already has as a former prime minister.

Aha! The opposition leader is entitled to personal bodyguards. Why didn't they just say so?


Cosmic X said...

I also found mistakes in their translations and blogged about them in the past.

I'm now learning Chovot HaLevavot which was originally written in Arabic. The introduction of Yehuda Ibn Tibbon who translated the work into Hebrew is fantastic and a must read for anyone who wants to translate from one lanuage to another.

Zman Biur said...

The shoddy job they do on the English edition is shockingly inconsistent with the quality image they have built for the Hebrew edition. Do they really want to be a serious newspaper?

Thanks for the tip on ibn Tibbon.

Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

Unfortunately, i find the English website more user-friendly than the Hebrew one.

Tovya @ Zion Report said...

I know. I have had this problem with Ha'aretz for a long time. If I would have had to rely on the Hebrew-to-English translation of Ha'aretz to learn Hebrew, I would have given up a decade ago. Thank G-d for a decent day school education.

David Boxenhorn said...


I thought this might interest you.

Zman Biur said...


I don't have much faith in demographic projections. I would point out, though, that the UN chart obscures the more important underlying trends: Fertility rates have dropped sharply in Christian countries, India and China. But they're likely to remain high in Muslim countries, and among Muslim minorities in non-Muslim countries. The geopolitical impact may be dramatic, to put it mildly.

David Boxenhorn said...

Zman, you're right about that! Though Islamic birthrates are dropping fast too, in most places.