Wednesday, January 18, 2006


Cavalier Cavaliere

Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi in an interview this morning:
"il presidente del consiglio non può per definizione mentire".
Direct translation: "the prime minister, by definition, cannot lie".

Contextual translation: "the king can do no wrong".

I would object to the contextual translation. Isn't "The king can do no wrong" a proverb, a motto or at any rate a way of saying? (Lat. rex non potest peccare) But Berlusconi doesn't use a motto, he has coined his own motto, one should stick to the original words to get an at least faint idea of his unlimited egocentrism...
You’re quite right, of course. I wasn’t seriously suggesting it as a translation, contextual or otherwise.

It was more in the spirit of those spoof subtitles (à la Annie Hall) which reveal characters’ inner attitudes rather than what they are literally saying. Berlusconi’s megalomania seems to be harking back to an earlier stage of Western civilization before the rule of law took hold, when the leader was above and beyond the law.

Proposed contextual translation into French: ‘L’état, c’est moi!’
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