Gorbachev's English Voice Speaks

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Gorbachev's English Voice Speaks

Recenty, Pavel Palazchenko published hisEnglish-language memoirs1, chronicling the last Cold War summits and the challenge of interpreting the father of perestroika's verboseand often fractured sentences into intelligible English.

"My problem was that I had to actually make all of those sentences and mangledstructures that Gorbachev produced, I had to make them sound grammatical," Palazchenko said in an interview. "It was even funfor me to do it because it was achallenge.It was a challenge I did not have with other speakers."

His ability in turning an earthy(колоритный) Russian phrase such as "Don't hang noodles on my ears" into "Don't try to fool me" made Palazchenko the leading translator for Gorbachev and Foreign Minister Shevardnadze for much of 1985 to1991.

Sometimes, he played a role in U.S.-Soviet diplomacy as well. On Christmas Day 1991, the day the Soviet Union collapsed, it was upto him to figure out a way to getGorbachev's call through toBush without going through the hotlineor the Foreign Ministry, by then run by the new Russian government. He found the home phone number of a top U.S. Embassy official, who helped route the call."[Gorbachev) didn't want to use the hotline, he wanted to do it in a personal way," Palazchenko said.

Among the foreign leaders Palazchenko has met, he is especially warm in his praise for Bush. "I think that Bush is an interesting study(зд. пример) ina kind of public spiritedness"(предвзятость), he said. "I think he really liked government, ... he really liked to work on issues.He was well prepared on just about any issue.... I think he was kind of underrated."

Reagan, by contrast, was "certainly not totally in command of the details," but one who had very good instincts(чутье) and an ability to rely onwise aides.

"Also, he was a person who, in my opinion, was very difficult not to like because he had this ability to convey the impression that he wants to be liked, and that he also likes you."

After Gorbachev left office, Palazchenko was one of relatively few loyal aides to join him at the Gorbachev Foundationthink-tank(мозговой центр). He says that the ex-communist leader is holding up(держится) well despite being hated or ignored by most Russians. "He really is not aperson who allows himself to concentrate on what others would regard as a tragedy, as what others would regard as a great personal injustice done by the people."

Palazchenko also believes Gorbachev's wife, Raisa, was unfairly condemned by many and falsely accused of being thepower behind the throne."That's so ridiculous," he said. "You cannot imagine Gorbachev being imposed on by whoever, certainly not by Mrs. Gorbachev."

Palazchcnko's memoirs are sparse in(have little) gossip or scandal – which made it hard for him to find a publisher initially – concentratingmostly onthe diplomatic history he witnessed.

He does recall a few vignettes,such as a furious Gorbachev during Reagan's 1988 visit to Moscow when U.S. officials insisted on checking all spectators entering the Bolshoi Theater before the two leaders arrived.

Adam Tanner ("Reuters")

Комментарии verbose – пространные;

mangled– путаные;

hotline– special communication line between the Kremlin and the White House;

to route the call– использовать другой канал (связи);

vignettes =episodes.

NB:issue= important problem (см. стр. 16).

Тема: Взаимовлияние культур

Lost in Translation

A newParis tabloidInfoMatin, wrote the other day: "All proposals designed to legislate onthe use of language give off a stale smell.And a regressiveone, because words have a capacity to fly in the face of thosewho persist in actingas customs officers of the language."

This was a response to the new bill to enforcethe use of French on public signsand in private conferences(зд.частные беседы). The defence of the French language is an itemof recurring interest: there is, of course, only one real enemy of the Gallic tongue:American English.

But elsewhere things are different. Unremarked by everyone outside Germany, the Society for the German Language (GfdS) has admitted another bunch(group) of words. These are new German words rather thanimports but the Germans do not have "douaniers"like the French – any old import can make itself at homein Germany in about 10 minutes. One can write articles consisting almost entirely of English.

German has a gift for fabricating new words in a way Americans might envy. Each January the GfdS picks a "Word of the Year." The one for 1993 was Sozialabbau which "stands as a generic term for a series of the difficult changes that have been felt in the lives of millions of people in east and west Germany."

This flexibility is something lacking in French. Mind you,there arc words that leave me stunned at the richness of French life: ramaillage or "the treatment of skins in preparation for the manufacture of chamois leather."Maybe this reflects theinfinitelinguistic variety the French reserve for such matters as food and women's clothes.

Each language has characteristics which govern the way people think and behave. It is widely believed that it is the people whocreate the language but the opposite is true. Now, you may ask: if French is so good at sensuality, why is itidentified withclarity, precision and analytical brilliance? The answer is that the French have to struggle against the grain oftheir language to obtain these skills. They labour to make absolutely precise in 40 words what English makes clear in four. (Unless, of course, they are treating animal skins.)

The same phenomenon can be seen in Japanese, whose structure is so at odds with its script that its speakers have to develop fantastic brains to make any sense of it.

The besetting English sin is sloppiness. The language is so good at conveying meanings and ideas with a minimum of effort that nobody tries very hard. New ideas and words are drawn to it like whores to a victorious army. From French, with its emphasis on eloquence and elegance, one often makes a desperate effort to retrieve any sense at all. It is hard to detect the difference between brilliant observation and the charlatan (зд. banality).

Only when translated into English it is possible to estimate the true value of their works.

The Germans have a different problem. Their language imposes lunatic rules of syntax and grammar. This strait-jackethas to contain a language whose greatest gift is an astonishing capacity for metaphysical and abstract expression. It is no accident that there is a certain kind of German which produces words and phrases that remind one of madmen in uniform.

What the French and the Germans have in common is a certain distaste for English. The poet and novelist, Tucholsky, wrote 60 years ago: "English is a simple but difficult language. It consists of loud foreign words which are badly pronounced." One uses it without loving it. Not so with French. The journalist, Gunter Simon writes, "When two non-Frenchmen speak French between themselves they are immediately mutually sympalisch. Whole peoples love French even if they hardly like the French."

There was a radio programme a few nights ago about English people living in France and how they spoke French. They confirmed that they reserved French for endearments and English for irony and sarcasm.

The Emperor Charles V famously said: "1 speak Spanish to God, Latin to my confessor, Italian to my mistress, French to my men and German to my horse." If he had known English he would have spoken it to his research assistant and his PR girl.

(And what about Russian? Maybe to the racketeer? – author.)

James Morgan ("Financial Times")

Комментарии tabloid– бульварная газета

stale= not fresh; regressive= зд. reactionary;

Gallic tongue = the French language;

"douaniers"= custom officers (French);

chamois leather– замша, лайка;

against the grainзд, «против шерсти»;

to be at odds with- to contradict;

script= spelling;

besetting– преобладающий, главный;

sloppiness – небрежность;

to retrieve =зд, to get;

lunatic= mad, crazy, senseless;

strait-jacket– смирительная рубашка;

metaphysical= зд. philosophical;

endearments= words of love;

PR – Public Relations (связи с общественностью).

Тема: Economics

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