(Purposefully) Lost in Translation

Below, we have a recent interview from the BBC in which they ply Rachida Dati — the former Minister of Justice in France — with a broad array of questions about women’s issues.

Rachida pushes back on the loaded-nature of each question.

Yet, in the subtitles that form Rachida’s message, the BBC reduces her words, and as a result, her message.

It starts out rather innocently, then becomes more and more of a convenient deflection of Rachida’s contrarian answers. (We see the interviewer below.) (I provided a link to the video at the bottom.


Interviewer: Do you think Hillary Clinton has come under scrutiny and pressure from the media in different sectors because she is a woman in the public eye?

Rachida, in her response, exposes Hillary Clinton as a very privileged figure in the public eye.

Rachida: She knows the code; She knows the system perfectly.

The simple translation that does not communicate the emphasis in her words is the following.

BBC Translation: She knows the system.


The interviewer: Do you think this conversation around women breaking the glass ceiling is shifting now?

Rachida aims her words at the media and fires away. She subsequently points out the resulting hypocrisy.

Rachida: It’s all the women you have seen and interviewed. And I know some. When they have power, they don’t serve the cause of women to get the message out. They use the cause of women just to access power.

BBC Translation: I know so many women who use the cause of women to access power.


Later, after explaining that all the great democracies of the world have turned a blind eye to the bloodshed in the Middle East (especially Syria) and the little girls who are forbidden to go to school, Rachida says:

Rachida: We are resigned. People are drowning in the Mediterranean. Eventually, it becomes a news story. (She uses an idiom: Ca fait divers.) That’s what shocks me.

BBC Translation: People are drowning in the Mediterranean and it is becoming run-of-the-mill. That’s what shocks me.



Even the comment section notices the lack of honesty in the translation.

Here is a link to the video.