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Mr Gadaffi goes to New York

My wife is a translator. She refused recently a court interpreting job. Interpreting is a tough burn-out kind of way to make a living. Interpreting the deranged munterings of the world’s favourite dictatorTM must be hell on earth

Colonel Gaddafi’s bizarre rant at the UN was met with yawns and disbelief by delegates.

But it was too much for the eccentric Libyan leader’s translator who is said to have collapsed with exhaustion during the lengthy diatribe.

The beleaguered interpreter cried ‘I just can’t take it any more,’ into a live microphone in Arabic after 75 minutes of Gaddafi’s ramblings.

He was replaced by the UN’s Arabic section chief, Rasha Ajalyaqeen, who translated the final 20 minutes of the speech.

I have also heard it described as a “tirade”. Or we could just stick with plain Olde English and call it, “A load of old bollocks”.

In his rant Gaddafi – who has not visited the UN since he took power in 1969 – read from a yellow folder of handwritten notes and spoke about Israel, the Taliban, swine flu and the US invasion of Grenada.

Grenada? That was 1983!

He also suggested the Security Council be renamed the ‘terror council’ castigating it for failing to stop 65 wars since 1945.

Oddly consistent in an Orwellian sense because of his Libya getting the human rights chair at the UN.

Another Arabic interpreter emphasised [sic] with the translator’s exasperation.

‘He’s not exactly the most lucid speaker.

‘It’s not just that what he’s saying is illogical, but the way he’s saying it is bizarre. However, I think I could have made him sound a lot better.’

UN speakers are supposed to limit themselves to 15 minutes and the chamber was half empty by the time Gaddafi finished.

Half empty? I wouldn’t have even bothered turning-up. You’d hear more sense from a sports commentator of the, “Well, Brian, you can’t win a match without scoring goals” school.

His speech wasn’t as long as Fidel Castro’s in 1960 which went on for four and a half hours.

That must have been a joy to experience. It might even have been longer if the German delegate hadn’t had to be rushed to ER having gnawed his own foot off.

Indian politician VK Krishna Menon also went on in 1957 when he talked for a nearly eight hours on Kashmir.

That killed several diplomats. The more fortunate lingered for some time in rest homes for the emotionally disturbed though one jumped to his death through a second storey window at the chance sight of a shami kebab.

This lot make Vogon poetry seem like the most mellifluous RSC actor reading a sonnet by Shakespeare.

Gadaffi and Dinner-jacket having a debate would be a weapon of mass destruction in and of itself.

Apparently UN interpreters are well paid. They deserve it.


  1. RAB says:

    Do you think Colonel Blowhard (both ends simultaniously apparentely!)

    Noticed that his translator was having a nervous breakdown? or was he too far gone on the sound of his own voice?

    If he did, time to give the poor little chap asylum.

  2. El Draque says:

    Translation is hard enough – I do some from time to time -so simultaneous intepretation of a rambling speech must be genuine horror.

    Occasionally interpreters can make history too.
    One famous case occurred in 1945; the Japanese negotiators asked what form the future government of Japan should have – republic, monarchy, etc.

    The interpreter rendered the query as “what constitution should Japan have?”.

    So Macarthur gave them one, enforced by the US Army and Navy.

    As it turned out, it seemed to work. But it could have been a lot worse.

  3. Nick M says:

    Also the Japanese attempts to surrender before Hiroshima etc were couched in very vague terms so as to try to surrender without actually making it appear as though that was what they were saying. Which might be very Zen but doesn’t actually work.

    The actual phrase used by the Emperor when he made the speech which ended it all was something like “The war in the Pacific has become something not necessarily to the advantage of the Empire of Japan” . Which has to count as the understatement of the century.

  4. The hardest part of an interpreter’s job is having to only INTERPRET/TRANSLATE what is being said regardless of their own feelings. To be able to simply repeat what is being said is extremely hard in some situations.

  5. NickM says:

    Good point Sitetranslations but my wife has had some hassle over quite the reverse – for not adding enough “spin” to the job.

  6. Paul Marks says:

    Gadiffi, Dinner Jacket of Iran, Chevez …… – and Obama, and he fitted in perfectly and was applauded and cheered by the rest of them.

    How did we come to this- how did the West fall so low as to have that Collectivist scumbag in the Whitehouse?

    “Look in the mirror Paul – Obama is in the Whitehouse because you and others did not do enough to stop it happening”.

    I know.

  7. RAB says:

    Not much you or I could have done about it Paul.

    We are not American citizens, and did not have a vote.

    You did your best to warn people though. You were calling Obama a Commie from the off, and many thought that you were exaggerating.
    Even Andy Williams has seen through the bastard now.

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