This week, how President Obama’s big speech to the Muslim world was translated, officially by the State Department, and less officially by various news outlets. Obama’s carefully worded speech was broadcast live with simultaneous voiceover in dozens of countries. The State Department’s translators received copies of the speech nearly 24 hours in advance. Not so for news organizations: most of them only got the headsup a mere 10 minutes before the event. My colleague Katy Clark reported on this. She also got the BBC Arabic Service‘s translator (and voice of Obama) to give us his rendering of the end of the speech, when Obama quoted from the Talmud, the Bible and the Koran. Not the easiest sentences to translate.
Ahead of elections in Belgium, we hear from the leader of Belgium’s first and only bilingual political party. Belgium has been riven by rhetorical language wars for the past few years, and now a few people in Brussels are saying “Enough” (in at least two languages).
Then, Chinese microbloggers battle government censors.
Finally, New York-based Bangladeshi hip hoppers Stoic Bliss rediscover their native language, Bengali. There’s a nice moment in this story when one of the guys hears another’s mother play the tabla, a set of two drums with goatskin heads. It’s a popular instrument across the Indian subcontinent. He’s never heard this older woman play the tabla before, and he’s so blown away that he tries to get her to play on a Stoic Bliss recording. Blushingly (at least it sounds that way) she demurs.
This isn’t the last of Bengali language and culture you’ll hear on The World in Words. I grew up in London, home away from home for many of Europe’s Bengalis. I’ve also reported in Bengal, on both the Indian and Bangladeshi sides of the border. So, more to come.
You can also subscribe via iTunes or the RSS feed or here.