Ministers' Speeches & Press Releases – Take Two

Or

Someone Should Tell Pooh Bah the Truth about Time Travel

Scene I

The other day I went through the unsettling experience of "doing something" with excerpts from a government minister's speech pasted together in the form of a press release.

I say "do something" because it started out as a Hebrew-to-English translation and ended up as retroactive editing, as it were.

What's the big idea, I ask?!

Perhaps if I were dealing directly with Pooh-Bah's Bureau, things would be different. Perhaps I could then say to the girl manning (tee-hee) Pooh-Bah's desk, "Lookie, Motek," I'd say to her (picked that one up from my carpenter and my handyman, who address me thus) "next time you know your boss is planning to give a speech at an international conference or State ceremony attended by foreign dignitaries, please send me his speech a day or two before the event." (See, I'm being reasonable, I'm not asking to have it a whole week before the event which was, presumably planned and scheduled months earlier.) "If it's in Hebrew, (goes this imaginary conversation) I'll translate it. If it's in the minister's personal dialect of English, I'll, um, polish it."

But no.

I get the job from Yum-Yum, who got it from Pitti-Sing, who got it – but there the trail is lost, disappearing in a tangle of red tape.

Scene II

… so I start translating this speech about the importance of this or that national resource, or the lamentable lack thereof, and what billion-dollar-project has to be done about it and whose palms have to be Nivea'ed…

… and suddenly – Clink! A penny drops. This speech was given at the recent Green Eggs & Turkey Ceremony, which took place at the Institute of Higher Skullduggery, and was attended, among others, by my colleague M who distinctly said that Pooh-Bah spoke in English!

So why on earth am I being asked to translate it from Hebrew into English?

Scene III

A few urgent phone calls and emails later, Yum-Yum says Pitti-Sing says thank you for pointing this out, here is the speech in English, which she obtained from Peep-Bo, who obtained it from – oh, never mind, and would I please, um, "go over it" before it's placed on the appropriate government website.

Once more, with feeling:

I don't know if Pooh-Bah wrote this stuff himself. If so, he should have a Copy Editor. If he wrote it in Hebrew, he should hire a Very Good, if not Excellent, translator. You know – like one of us.

As it is, I'm at a loss. Scores – if not hundreds – of people heard the minister say that he intends to "flourish the desert". I can't travel back in time and have him say "make the desert flourish". I checked with Brian Greene to be on the safe side – can't be done.

Someone had better tell Pooh-Bah.

2 comments:

Miriam Erez said...

Now, Nina, I'm sure he said "flourish ZEE desert". Are we still trying to make the %^$@#$ desert bloom? I live in the %^$@#$ desert, and we got off that merry-go-round at least a decade ago. Hasn't anyone told Pooh-Bah???

Michal said...

Nina, really missed your monthly newsletters, glad to find them again!
still as sharp, witty and consise as ever. Keep fighting the good fight.

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