Sunday, 29 January 2012

POV: Lost In Translation?

Photo © AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen- Courtesy DenverPost.com
I've seen quite a few errors in the captions of photographs recently, but this one is probably the most misleading. The photograph appeared in the Pictures of the Week on the Denver Post Plog

Underneath the photograph is a caption that reads "Eman Mohammed, 7, holds a placard that reads in Arabic, "our army is over our head, and the parliament belongs to the ousted," during a protest in Tahrir Square, in Cairo, Egypt, Monday, Jan. 23, 2012. The parliament elected in Egypt's first legislative vote after Hosni Mubarak's ouster nearly a year ago held its inaugural session on Monday, with Islamists dominating the 498-seat chamber that will oversee the drafting of a new constitution."

This is incorrect, and is at a 180 degrees divergence from what is on the placard. The correct translation of the Arabic words on the placard is "Our Army is over our head (ie a colloquialism for being held in great esteem)...The Council belongs (or follows) the ousted (for the ousted Mubarak)."

The Council referred to on the placard is not the Parliament, but is the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces. This is totally divergent from what the caption incorrectly states. The child is presumably one of the protestors who took part in a demonstration against the military council, not against the civilian Parliament.

I always wondered whether in such a case, would the error be that of the photographer (in this case, an Arabic speaker) or someone else?