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Thursday, October 29, 2009

euro topics

I've been subscribing to a very useful newsletter called euro topics for a few weeks now. It provides an overview of interesting articles published all over Europe with the main focus being on political topics. The idea obviously is amazing, I read French, German, and English, but getting the Spanish, Romanian, or Bulgarian point of view on things is extremely interesting.

Yet, I noticed a sizable caveat today which made me remember the potential pitfalls that relying on a translation entail. Yesterday's newsletter included a commentary taken from Le Quotidien on Juncker's candidacy to the EU Presidency. Here is the excerpt:

"The Luxembourg newspaper Le Quotidien is all for Luxembourg's Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker becoming president of the EU. But it questions whether Juncker will be able to win over the rest of Europe: 'Other European heavy-weights have also thrown their hats into the ring. In 2004 it looked like everything would have gone Juncker's way if the European Constitution had been adopted. But now it's a completely different story. The British are determined to back Tony Blair come what may. Although he does enjoy an incontestable international popularity, his 'Eurosceptic' track record is dubious to say the least. But it remains to be seen whether the Europeans want Juncker as much as we do here in Luxembourg.'"

The problem is that this is at best a misleading translation of what Le Quotidien actually says (I noticed this only because I was working on a blog entry of my own on Juncker and had wanted to read the whole article in the original). The columnist for example never explicitly takes position in favor of Juncker's candidacy. The belief that Juncker would have had more success in 2004 is based on diplomatic circles not on the writer's personal opinion. Finally, the concluding sentence, while faithfully translated, is completely taken out of contact as it orignally refers to Juncker declaring before the elections in 2004 and 2009 that he would leave (for Europe) if not reelected. It does not comment on his popularity in Luxembourg today or even his compatriots' approval of his ascendancy to the EU Presidency.

I still am thrilled by the general idea and will continue to subscribe to the service, but I guess the lesson of the day is that one should never completely rely on something translated by someone else.

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