Forgotten profession: Interpreter – promoter of propaganda

Forgotten profession: Interpreter – promoter of propagandaRussian media reported that the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has apologized for the bomber, downed in November 2015. The Press Secretary of the Turkish President, however, said that Erdogan did not apologize - he expressed deep regret at the death of the pilot.

Crimean Tatar journalist Osman Pashayev noted that the phrase “kurusa bakma”, used by President Erdogan, means "do not be offended" and is usually used in speech while apologizing, when the apologetic side feels in the right, and consider the other side to be wrongfully hurt.

This is not the first curious case in the history of the diplomatic difficulties of interpretation and translation process.

1860 China

Shortly after the Second Opium War, during which the Europeans completely defeated the Qin Dynasty armed forces, the Chinese junk drove the foreign ambassadors upriver to accept the surrender of the ruling Emperor. The people who gathered on the banks, met the boat with cheers. On the side of the boat it was written in hieroglyphics: "We are transporting big-nosed monkey to worship the Son of Heaven."

1870 Ems telegram

On July 13, 1870 the French ambassador at the Prussian court Count Benedetti came up to King William, who was strolling in the park, and asked him not to nominate any of Hohenzollern to the Spanish throne. King William mumbled something vague. Having received the report of this conversation, Chancellor Bismarck was concerned. He tried for a war with France, but the report on the conversation drawn up by the secretary, showed that King William was set to a conciliatory mood.

Then Bismarck edited the text, removing from it all compromise phrases. The new text implied that Count Benedetti presented an ultimatum to the King, and the King cursed a Frenchman.

Thus the Ems telegram was born, which was the direct Prussian-Frankish casus belli.

1941 Pearl Harbor

Forgotten profession: Interpreter – promoter of propaganda

To know the ciphers of a potential enemy is always a good thing. Deciphering his secret correspondence, you can better understand his intentions. This happens often, but not always.

In November 1941, a month before Pearl Harbor, the United States – who had decoded by the time the Japanese diplomatic code - intercepted a secret instructions addressed to the Foreign Minister of Togo Ambassador Nomura.

By that time, the President Roosevelt announced a total embargo on the supply of raw materials, including crude oil, to Japan. This embargo cut off the island, resource-poor Japan, from all the sources of raw materials. The military people - General Marshall and Admiral Stark in particular - directly warned Roosevelt that this measure would cause war: Japan's oil reserves would be enough only for two years, and then, cornered and irritated, Japan would have no choice but to attack on the United States.

In the intercepted telegram Togo instructed Nomura as to seek a compromise with the United States at all costs. The missive began with the phrase: "We make every possible effort to ensure that the Japan-US relations, which are now on the verge of breaking, could be normalized."

Apparently, this peaceful tone did not fit anywhere. Roosevelt quite deliberately drew the United States into the Second World War, and since the American people absolutely did not want to fight, then there was only way for Roosevelt to do it: a treacherous attack on peacefully sleeping America. But Japan, unfortunately, was at a distance of 5 thousand miles from the United States and the sleeping Americans. It did not want to attack, though, it had extensive plans for the expansion in the Pacific Ocean.

In general, all the participants of the Second World claimed that they were treacherously attacked: Germany argued that it was treacherously invaded by Poland and the Soviet Union stated that the country had been treacherously attacked by Finland. But Roosevelt, unlike Stalin or Hitler, was the leader of the democratic country and could not organize the treacherous attack only on paper.

The treacherous attack, had to take place in reality – no matter how the things were.

The translation of the secret dispatch, which arrived on the table of Hull, the Secretary of State, began with the phrase: "Relations between the United States and Japan have reached a critical point, and we are losing hope to change the situation for the better." In the performance of the same interpreter, Togo’s instruction aimed at finding a compromise at any cost, had become a user manual on how to play tricks on the Americans at all costs.
We cannot say that that particular document becane the key reason for the treacherous Japanese attack at the sleeping Peral Harbor, but it surely played a significant role in it.

From the literature sources. George Martin

George Martin in his "Song of Ice and Fire" also describes the complexity of the diplomatic translation.

"Say to this ignorant Western whore, that courage has nothing to do with it", - says slaver Krasnis mo Naklos, who sells to Deyneris Targaryen the army of slaves.
"Good Master says that courage has nothing to do with it, Your Grace," – interferes the clever interpreter.
"Tell her that she should open her eyes of the whore" - continues Krasnis mo Naklos.
"He wants you to watch carefully," - translates clever Missandrey.

David Weber

In one of the books of the popular American science fiction writer David Weber, the ambitious Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Haven, is seeking the fall of his own President, and takes the liberty to edit the dispatches, which the Republic (which had just concluded a disgraceful uneasy truce) sends to the Kingdom of Manticore.

In the end, the Minister cancels from the final dispatch the particle "no". The matter ends with the resumption of the galactic war.

... Conclusion: it is good that the whole situation between Putin and Erdogan ended as the situation in China in 1860, and not as in the case of the President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Togo in 1941.
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