Thursday, November 09, 2006

Lost in translation?

It happens all the time. A press report quoting officials that leaves me bewildered.

I've mused in earlier posts - is it a language problem?

Does the official say words that don't quite come out as what he means? Or does he mean exactly what he says? Has the reporter mis-heard, misunderstood, misquoted?

Front page of Emirates Today is another classic example, in the story about 'beach pests'.

Protection of females using the beaches is vital on a number of levels. To see action being taken against the hordes of men harassing, photographing, propositioning them is excellent news.

The story is based around a conversation with the Director of Dubai Police CID, who explains what action is being taken.

Amongst it we get on to confusing stuff.

For example, he is quoted as saying that his department is prepared to arrest every man who goes to the beach for the sole purpose of staring at female swimmers.

Hmmm...difficult to prove I would have thought, and they're not likely to admit to that. More likely they'll say they were just taking the sea air, getting some exercise, meeting with their friends - just as the rest of us do. Some of them will be doing just that too I would have thought.

Then the quote that I really don't understand: "Those who go to the beach must swim. They are not allowed to sit and watch the swimmers...On the beach, they must swim or else they will be arrested."

Most of us who go to the beach spend more time sitting on the beach than we do in the water. Most of us look around at other beach-users, watch the people in the water.

That isn't the problem at all.

The actual problem is well-documented - groups of men invading females' personal space, both on the beach and in the water (but that's OK because the men are swimming?); illegally photographing them without their permission; making unwelcome advances; propositioning them.

It's good news that the issue is being addressed, but if the quotes are correct the way it's being planned is simplistic in the extreme and leaves a lot to be desired.

The full story is at Emirates Today

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