Friday, January 31, 2014

Syrian Editors

From the middle of this article:
In a poll taken by a Facebook group for civilian opposition activists called Tahrir Souri, or Syrian Editors, more than half agreed with this description of Geneva 2: “It’s better than expected, and maybe we will get something out of it.”
"Syrian Editors," what a weird name for a rebel opposition group, right? Wrong. I'm pretty sure that's a translation error. The name of the FB group is تحرير سوري. The first word of the name, تحرير ("tahrir") has multiple meanings. It could mean "editing" or "liberation", depending upon the context. In this context it seems pretty silly to go with the editing one when you're talking about a rebel movement seeking to "liberate" the country from Assad's rule. But that's what happens these days when people rely upon machine translations.

Actually, google translate correctly renders "Tahrir Souri" as "Syrian liberation." Bing translates it as "free Suri," which means it translated "tahrir" but not the adjective that follows it (Bing, unlike google, also does not give a url to link a particular translation, so if you want to see "free Suri" for yourself, you will need to set it to Arabic to English and then cut and past تحرير سوري into the field). So I am not 100% sure that the NYT thinks "tahrir" means "editors" because it relied on a machine. Actually, I believe that "tahrir" means editing, not editor. The latter would be محرر (which also means "liberator", depending upon the context). But I could be wrong. Multiple meanings for the same word are common in Arabic and I am very very rusty.