An American observer comments on French politics.
The Times article briefly describes Banon’s appearance on Ardisson’s show, which it (wrongly) labels a “reality show.” The article then quotes Banon as saying “He wanted to grab my hand while answering my questions, and then my arm…We ended up fighting, since I said clearly, ‘No, no.’ We fought on the floor, I kicked him, he undid my bra, he tried to remove my jeans.”Here I count three non-trivial translation errors. In French, it’s “Il a voulu que je lui tienne la main…”: “he wanted me to hold his hand,” not “wanted to grab my hand”. Next, in French: “ça s’est fini très très violemment, puisque je lui ai dit clairement [interruption from another guest to whom Banon then responds]…Ah non, mais on s’est battus au sol,": “things ended up very, very badly, since I clearly told him [interruption from another guest to whom Banon then responds]…Oh no, but we fought on the floor.” Here the Times doesn’t so much translate as rewrite or invent: “We ended up fighting, since I said clearly, ‘No, no’” Next, in French: “il a essayé d’ouvrir mon jean” (“he tried to open my jeans”) is translated “he tried to remove my jeans.” Arguably, this last translation is the most forgivable one since “to open jeans” is not idiomatic in English, but in the context of a sexual assault, this sort of detail matters, and “trying to remove” conjures up a more violent image than simply “trying to open.” Together these three mistranslations are hardly random errors, since all three work to make Banon’s description more explicit and DSK’s behavior more violent.
On a completely unrelated subject, but still in the vein of complaining about the NY Times, there’s an opinion piece on the 50th anniversary of Céline’s death from Alan Riding that concludes: “And admirers of Céline the writer can no longer brush aside Céline the man. A genius? Probably. Evil? Certainly.” First, there are few admirers of Céline who haven’t wrestled with the problem of Céline’s anti-Semitic publications and his refusal to recant publicly after the war. I have recordings of radio interviews from the fifties in which he’s questioned closely on the subject. So it’s not as if scholars and journalists have preferred not to deal with “Céline the man”; it’s impossible not to. Second, the crude summary judgment that Céline was “evil” is not only unilluminating, it’s as offensive, in a way, as any other attempt to exclude people from humanity; it participates, in other words, in the same stigmatizing logic from which anti-Semitism itself springs.Link for the Times article: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/30/opinion/30iht-edriding30.html
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