When people talk about the causes of the Somalia’s long-standing problem, clanism is cited as a basis for Somalia’s prolonged instability. The language Somalis speak, Somali, is not factored in the litany of problems Somalis are facing. It is time to consider major communication problems from misquotations and mistranslations as contributing factors to the Somali problem.
Two weeks ago the BBC Somali Service reporter in Mogadishu, misquoted the Somali Minster of Security, Omar Hashi Adan who said “Eritrea oo soddon iyo dhawr sanadood qof kasta oo iyaga oo muwaaddin ahi uu adduunka ku mari jiray baasaboorka Soomaalida…” (“for thirty plus years every Eritrean national used to travel the world using the Somali passport…” ) but the BBC Somali Service reporter in Mogadishu quoted the minister as saying: “ … muwaadiniinta Eritreeya Soomaaliya ay ku mari jireen baasaboorka Jamhuuriyadda Soomaaliya… “ … “Eritrean nationals used the travel Somalia using the Somali passport…”
An example about a politician saying the opposite of what he wanted to say can be found in the same BBC Somali Service report on the misquoted minister. The Somali Minister of Security, Omar Hashi Adan, said in a press conference: “Siyaasad ahaan, horeba waa uu caddaysatay dawladda Eritreeya inay ka soo horjeeddo inaan dawlad Soomaaliyeed ayna dhalan…” (“Politically, the Eritrean government has already made it clear ( to itself) that it is not against the birth of a Somali government…” The Somali Minister for Security intended to argue that the Eritrean government was against the birth of a Somali government : “Siyaasad ahaan, horeba waa uu caddaysatay dawladda Eritreeya inay ka soo horjeeddo inay dawlad Soomaaliyeed dhalato” “Politically, the Eritrean government has already made it clear ( to itself) that it is against the birth of a Somali government…”
The UN Special Representative for Somalia, Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah was misquoted in Somali UN Somalia website as saying “now is the time for Somalis to strangle for their people, their region and the international community that they are finally serious about peace and leaving behind the culture of winner takes all and the ever-shifting alliances that are still devastating their nation”:“ Hadda waxaan joognaa waqtigii dadka Soomaaliyeed ay dadkooda, dadka gobolka iyo bulshada caalamkaba u miijin lahaayeen inay markaan dhab ka tahay inay nabad helaan ayna iska iloowayaan dhaqankii ku dhisnaa ninkii guuleysta ayaa wax walba qaata” although Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah was quoted in the English press release as saying “Now is the time for Somalis to show their people, their region and the international community that they are finally serious about peace and leaving behind the culture of winner takes all and the ever-shifting alliances that are still devastating their nation.”
It is not only a Somali politicians who has so far failed to avoid misuse of the negative. The BBC Somali Service editor, Yusuf Garad Omar, paid a visit to School of Oriental and African Studoies in January 2008. He reprted, in Somali, that “the British government said that universities in UK must fight extremist views that do not encourage hatred and that people resort to violence or execute terrorist activities. ” (Dowladda dalkan Britain ayaa sheegtay in Jaamacadaha dalka ay tahay in lagala dagaallamo fikradaha xag-jirka ah ee dhiirri gelin karin nacayb iyo in ay dadku isu gacan qaadaan amaba ay fuliyaan falal argagixiso”
In 2005 BBC Somali Service mistranslated a sentence in a news analysis by Martin Plaut, BBC World Serice African editor: “Dalka Djibouti waxaa jooga 900 oo askari oo Mareykan ah oo loogu tala galay in ay ka hortagaan al qaacida in aysan galin badda cas” ( In Djibouti there 900 American soldiers for prevveting Al Qaida from not entering the Red Sea.”
Mistranslations and misquotations are not confined to politics and journalism. There is mistranslation in Somali translation of the Holy Koran printed in 1991 in Al Baqara verse 177: The words وَفِي الرِّقَابِ were translated as “fakin qoor “ does/didn’t release a neck” as in
لَّيْسَ الْبِرَّ أَن تُوَلُّواْ وُجُوهَكُمْ قِبَلَ الْمَشْرِقِ وَالْمَغْرِبِ وَلَكِنَّ الْبِرَّ مَنْ آمَنَ بِاللّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الآخِرِ وَالْمَلآئِكَةِ وَالْكِتَابِ وَالنَّبِيِّينَ وَآتَى الْمَالَ عَلَى حُبِّهِ ذَوِي الْقُرْبَى وَالْيَتَامَى وَالْمَسَاكِينَ وَابْنَ السَّبِيلِ وَالسَّآئِلِينَ وَفِي الرِّقَابِ وَأَقَامَ الصَّلاةَ وَآتَى الزَّكَاةَ وَالْمُوفُونَ بِعَهْدِهِمْ إِذَا عَاهَدُواْ وَالصَّابِرِينَ فِي الْبَأْسَاء والضَّرَّاء وَحِينَ الْبَأْسِ أُولَئِكَ الَّذِينَ صَدَقُوا وَأُولَئِكَ هُمُ الْمُتَّقُونَ:
“Samo falku ma aha inaad wajiga u jeedisaan Qorax ka soo bax iyo Qorax u dhac laakiin sama fale waa ruuxii rumeeya eebbe, Qiyaame, Malaa’igta, Kitaabka (kutubta Alle), Nabiyada, oo siiya Xoolaha isagoo jecel Qaraabada, Agoonta, Masaakiinta, Masaafirka, kuwa baryootama, Fakin qoor, oogana Salaadda, bixiyana Zakada, oofiyana ballankoda, markay ballamaan, Samra ( adkeystana) Waqtiga saboolnimada, Jirrada, iyo Dagaalka, kuwaasina waa kuwa ku runsheegay Iimaankooda waansa kuwa dhawrsada.”
The English translation the verse in The Qur’an translated by Professor M.A.S. Abdel Haleem’s the Koran( 2004) is: “Goodness does not consist in turning your face towards east or west. The truly good are those who believe in God and the Last Day, in the angels, the scripture, and the prophets; who give away some of their wealth, however much they cherish, to their relatives, to orphans, the needy, travelers, beggars, and to liberate those in bondage; those who keep up the prayer and pay the prescribed alms; who keep pledges whenever they make them; who are steadfast in misfortune, adversity, and times of danger. These are the ones who are true, and it is they who are aware of God. “
A recent (mis)quotation example from Hiiraan Online is on a statement by the mayor of Mogadishu on clashes between Al Shabab forces and the Transitional Federal Governmnet of Somalia forces in Mogadishu. The Mogadishu reporter for the website quoted the Somali Mayor of Mogadishu Mr Mohamed Osman Ali Dhagahtur as saying: “ …ma yeelayno in dadka ku nool Gobolka Banaadir ay dhibaateeyaan dad ka yimid gobollo kale oo nabadgelyo ka jirto …” (“We will not allow people in Banadir region to victimise people from peaceful regions…”
It is not the mayor’s choice words that contradicted the point he was making; it is the structure. Had he started with the subject 'dad ka yimid gobollo kale' as in “ ma yeelayno in dad ka yimid gobollo kale oo nabadgelyo ka jirto ay dhibaateeyaan dadka ku nool Gobolka Banaadir …” which in translation would read: “We will not allow people from peaceful regions to victimise people in Banadir region…”, the mayor's message would have been clearer.
Dr John Caney, author of the book, Modernisation of Somali Vocabulary With Particular Reference to the Period from 1972 to the Present , asks: “How can sensible discussions take place when people are saying the opposite of what they mean?” More than thirty six years have passed since an epoch-making decision was made to choose Latin alphabet characters for the Somali orthography. At least four Somali language grammar books have been published since 1972; Somali has been used for administration and as a medium of instruction, and yet many Somalis make avoidable errors in spoken and written Somali due to lack of awareness about the Somali language grammar. Not long ago many Somalis were concerned about the Somali children in Diaspora who speak little or no Somali because they are not told Somali folk tales nor are they encouraged to speak Somali at home. At least we can figure out what they are saying when they speak Somali; we will have to think twice before assuming that a quote or text translated into Somali or a Somali politician's statement is correct.
Friday, 29 May 2009
Saturday, 2 May 2009
Wariyaha Muqdisho ee Hiiraan Online oo xiganaya Guddoomiye Ku-xigeenka Baarlamaanka Soomaaliyeed ayaa kala saari kari waayay magac-u-yaallada aniga iyo innaga gaar ahaan marka ay noqdaan la-fale ( object)"Haddii aan qaldanahay na saxa, laakin ha nagu sixina Madfac iyo Bastoolad” ayuu yiri Maxamed Cumar Dalxa sida ay u xigatay Hiiraan Online. Weydiintu waa: Miyuu Maxamed Cumar Dalxa isu hadlay mise wuxuu u hadlay Baarlamaanka, mise isaga ayaa isla weedh u adeegsaday magac-u-yaallada aniga iyo innaga?