Posted by: jt | March 7, 2009

’cause i don’t shine if you don’t shine

My brain is melting.

This little bit of news about how

Russian media have been poking fun at the U.S. Secretary of State over a translation error on a gift she presented to her Russian counterpart.

because apparently

Hillary Clinton gave Sergei Lavrov a mock “reset” button, symbolizing U.S. hopes to mend frayed ties with Moscow.

But he said the word the Americans chose, “peregruzka,” meant “overloaded” or “overcharged,” rather than “reset.”

makes the synapses in my brain misfire.

Okay, so this time around – not a big deal. Everybody has a good laugh and goes home.

That said, if we’re mistranslating things that we’re giving to Russia, we’re fucked.

I can totally see how this happened. Someone – possibly Hillary, possibly not – came up with this cute little idea. They got all excited about it in their office and didn’t want anyone else to get credit for it (because all that matters in DC is who gets credit), so they did it themselves. They work at the State Department, you know. They know these things. It’s such a cute and charming idea and…

Get your shit together, Hillary.

Let me introduce you to your Department. It has an entire Office of Language Services dedicated to preventing these kinds of gaffes.

Did you even show it to one of the two the simultaneous English/Russian interpreters, who were with you the entire time and would have been native Russian-speakers? Did it occur to you to get their opinion about this, both linguistically and culturally? Because clearly, before you gave it to one, no other native Russian-speakers or actual Russians saw this overloaded button.

Again, I get that this is a minor issue and she’ll learn, but this is why she should be Secretary of Health and Human Services – an area that she understands and knows – not at the State Department where she’s learning on the job.

Prove me wrong, Hillary and Barack. Convince me that this was a good decision. Show me you can represent us and our interests with the cultural sensitivity and diplomatic skills required of a Secretary of State.

And always ask a native speaker about translation questions. For fuck sake.



  1. […] bookmarks tagged opinion ’cause i don’t shine if you don’t shine saved by 5 others     StellaxCorneliaxLove bookmarked on 03/07/09 | […]

  2. Hello!
    Very Interesting post! Thank you for such interesting resource!
    PS: Sorry for my bad english, I’v just started to learn this language ;)
    See you!
    Your, Raiul Baztepo

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