Friday, September 4, 2009


For me, words are precious. They convey a message. They have the power to move you. They set the tone, the mood of a piece. Every word is important. Every decision which determines the inclusion or exclusion of a particular word, phrase, or sentence in a piece is heavily weighted.

But these days, in my day job translating news stories for a local paper, I have had to learn to let go — to loosen, just a little bit, what around here anyway is known as a “khasyat” (my translation: a character trait).

Nobody cares if the word you chose in the piece was exactly the right word (and in my case, accurately translated) — not those who read the news and not those who pump out the stories on a hourly basis. The day’s headlines change so quickly that the story that was breaking news a minute ago — and which I laboured over, noting detail after detail — has moved to an obscure area of the website which nobody has the time to read. Perhaps I’m wrong: perhaps those, at least, who read the news care if the president was “indignant” or simply “angry”, if Armenia and Turkey “establish” relations or they “normalise” them, if a political prisoner was “restrained” or “imprisoned”.

I think even the smallest choices made in presenting the news are important. Especially in today’s political climate and especially when the tendency to speculate is so prevalent in society.

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