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Translation controversy - "Ahmadinejad: Israel must be wiped off the map"


Here's a translation blooper of historic implications playing out before our very eyes!

Mistranslation: Wiping Israel of the map


A speech by Iran's president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2005 was translated as:

"Our dear Imam said that the occupying regime must be wiped off the map and this was a very wise statement."


The Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting subsequently filed a story in English titled “Ahmadinejad: Israel must be wiped off the map”, immediately to be picked up by world media outlets.

Iranian translator Arash Norouzi disputes this translation. First, he points out Ahmadinejad referred to the “regime occupying Jerusalem”, and not Israel itself. Further, according to Norouzi the original Persian text of the speech translates as “the Imam said this regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time."

(Search the Web for nuances of the Persian language and idioms.)

This translation has been confirmed by numerous scholars of Iran. And, the Iranian government has denied Ahmadinejad issued a threat.

However, response to the initial translation has been ongoing. In Israel in particular, already weary of Iran’s nuclear ambitions, Shimon Peres cautioned "the president of Iran should remember that Iran can also be wiped off the map”. And, as recently as January 2012, the defense minister stated that Iran has a goal of “wiping Israel off the map.”

Clearly, there is a heightened sense of urgency in Israel, which has escalated to talk of a pre-emptive strike on Iranian nuclear facilities. This in turn has spurred the United States to vigorously push for tough sanctions on Iran to hold the Israelis in check, fearing a strike on Iran will ignite a wider, regional conflagration.

Where this translation snafu ends is anybody’s guess. There is little doubt, however, that when all is said and done, the implications will be of historic proportions!

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About the Author
Ivan Vandermerwe is the CEO of SAECULII YK, the owner of Translation Services Japanese to English in Tokyo, Japan. Visit SAECULII for the latest professional articles and news on Japanese Translation Services

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Tags: English Japanese Translation · Japanese Translation Services · Professional · Translation Articles · Translation errors







2 &DISCUSS response(s) so far ↓

  • 1 » Akiko Akiya (2012-08-18)

    First translations are the most lasting.
  • 2 » Yumi Kagami (2012-09-23)

    Language determines people's way of thinking. With different languages, it's not easy to tranlate an exact match.

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