Les ambiguïtés du discours de Nasrallah et les problèmes de sa traduction vus par la BBC
Hezbollah chief’s ambiguous phrase on Syria arms raises translation headache
Hezbollah leader Hasan Nasrallah’s mention in his 9 May speech of new weaponry has had translators and journalists scratching their heads and scouring their dictionaries for a clear, consistent and meaningful translation.
Differences have emerged in Western news agency reports of the speech, Arabic English-language media and even Iranian news sources; all of them coming up with alternative phrases for a key passage.
In the literal translation of his speech, broadcast live on Al-Manar TV, Nasrallah says Syria would supply his movement with “qualitative weaponry” that would be considered as a “balance-breaker” in the region.
BBC Monitoring translates Nasrallah as saying in his speech: “The first response, you Israelis must know, if you considered Syria as a weapon corridor to the resistance, then Syria will give weaponry to the Resistance. This is a major strategic decision. More than that, if you [Israel] claim that your aggression’s aim is to prevent the expansion of the Resistance’s capability, then Syria will give the Resistance qualitative weaponry that the Resistance has never obtained until now. This is higher than a matter of capability expansion; we went for a balance-breaker.”
The key phrase in Nasrallah’s speech is “silahan naw’iyyan lam tahsal ’alayhi al-muqawama hatta al-an”, which BBC Monitoring translates as “qualitative weaponry that the Resistance has never obtained until now”.
Elsewhere, Nasrallah’s choice of the Arabic word for “qualitative” - “naw’i” - has also been interpreted as “game-changing”, “sophisticated” and “strategic”. Reuters, for example, quotes Nasrallah as saying: “then Syria will give the resistance sophisticated weapons the like of which it hasn’t seen before” Meanwhile AFP quotes the same passage from the Hezbollah leader as “Syria will provide (Hezbollah) with game-changing weapons it has not had before”
BBC Monitoring notes that Nasrallah uses the Arabic word “silah” - the singular form denoting weapon or weaponry - instead of the plural form “asliha” for weapons. It is used throughout in conjunction with the ambiguous term “qualitative”.
In the passage, Nasrallah uses the phrase “kasir lil-tawazun” (balance shifting, literally balance breaking), which may account for the “game-changing” translation elsewhere.
Iranian, pan-Arab coverage
Iran’s conservative student news agency ISNA quotes the key passage from Nasrallah in this way: “Syria will provide the Resistance with strategic weapons which the Resistance has never had before We are ready to receive any type of weapon; even if it upsets the current balance in the region.” (Farsi: amma [Syria] selahhay-e stratezhiqki be moghavemat khahad daad ke ta konoon moghavemat aan ra dar ekhtiyar nadashte ast.)
Iran’s conservative news website Tabnak uses the following phrase as a direct quote: “They will be unique weapons which the Resistance has never possessed before.” (Farsi: [Syria] selahhay-e monhaserbefardi khahad daad ke ta konoon moghavemat aan ra dar ekhtiyar nadashte ast.)
Iran’s English-language Press TV also chooses the term “unique” on its website: “Nasrallah said Hezbollah has the capability to obtain what he described as unique weapons that could be used to defend Lebanon against the enemies.”
The English-language Arabic source Al Jazeera TV website borrows both the Reuters and the AFP wording: “The head of Hezbollah has said he is ready to receive ’game-changing’ weapons from Syria, which has long been a conduit for Iranian weapons bound for the Lebanese armed group The resistance [against Israel] is prepared to accept any sophisticated weaponry even if it was to break the equilibrium [in the region],” Al Jazeera quotes Nasrallah directly saying in his speech.
Source: Media observation by BBC Monitoring in English 10 May 13