President Obama, the Power of Words, and Official Chinese Translation

Following up on my post from last week on President Obama and the power of words, it’s interesting to note how the words in President Obama’s inauguration speech were evidently deemed by the Communist Party of the People’s Republic of China to be too powerful for the people of China. Not only was the live broadcast of the speech on state television interrupted once President Obama mentioned the struggle against communism, but the official translation provided by state media omitted parts referring to communism, corruption and the silencing of dissent. According to an AP article: “The Chinese translation of the speech, credited to the Web site of the official English-language newspaper China Daily, was missing the word “communism” in the first sentence. The paragraph with the sentence on dissent had been removed entirely.” For obvious but unfortunate political reasons, the official translation decided not to be faithful to the source document.