Monday, September 8, 2008


Bad French prolongs Russia-Georgia conflict

The conflict between Russia and Georgia has been worsened by badly-translated French, France's foreign minister has admitted on the eve of crucial talks in Moscow between the European Union and the Kremlin......

Bernard Kouchner told a meeting of EU foreign ministers at the weekend that the ceasefire agreement was written in French before being translated into English and then Russian. Asked what problems surrounded the buffer zones, Mr Kouchner replied: "The translation, as always.".....

One reason for the continuation of the conflict now appears to be a passage in the Russian translation of the agreement that speaks of security "for" South Ossetia and Abkhazia. The English version speaks of security "in" the two areas.
The difference is crucial, because Russia continues to keep its tanks and armed troops "in" Georgian territory. The international community, in turn, wants security "for" South Ossetia and Abkhazia without the Russian army staying in Georgia.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov agreed that the ceasefire wording made his country sound like an aggressor. He said the Georgian interpretation "contains a whole range of distortions" including replacement of the preposition "for" with "in".
The farce is a huge blow to the French belief that theirs is a lingua franca, spoken and understood the world over.  In fact French has long been replaced by English as the language of diplomacy, and is becoming increasingly irrelevant to the international community.
Last week French education minister Xavier Darcos admitted that "the secret of success" for French youngsters nowadays was to speak English.  The U-turn came just two years after President Jacques Chirac stormed out of an EU summit after a French business leader addressed delegates in English.
Mr Chirac's view is still regularly backed up by L'Academie Francaise, which promotes French as an international language, as well as opposing the use of "Franglais" words like "le weekend" and "le parking".  MORE....


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