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George On My Mind

Translating under deadline pressure is not easy. Once in a while, someone slips up and significantly changes the meaning of a quote. A July 7 item from Reuters TV's international video feed on the G8 summit is a good (or perhaps bad) example.

They sent out a sound bite from Russian President Dmitry Medvedev during a news conference with U.S. President George W. Bush. This was the first line of their translation:

"Well, yes we have discussed the development of relations between our countries with Georgia and we are positive they will develop and we will build on the relationship with the new American administration."

Of course, something didn't smell quite right. We had two of our Russian speakers listen to the same quote. This was our translation:

"I think that everything will be normal. Relations will continue to develop further. I told George in this regard that, in any case, we are also going to build relations with the new administration, which will come into office relatively soon."

Georgia? George? Pretty close in English. In Russian, not so much.

Having Georgia on your mind is pretty understandable these days, given the state of affairs between Moscow and Tbilisi. But Medvedev definitely said "George." It was as clear as moonlight through the pines.

-- Bruce Jacobs

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Written by RFE/RL editors and correspondents, Transmission serves up news, comment, and the odd silly dictator story. While our primary concern is with foreign policy, Transmission is also a place for the ideas -- some serious, some irreverent -- that bubble up from our bureaus. The name recognizes RFE/RL's role as a surrogate broadcaster to places without free media. You can write us at

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