Saturday, August 16, 2008

Jihad: From Jakarta to the White House

The Audacity of Hope, Barack Obama's autobiography has been released in South East Asia and translated into Indonesian. At first glance, not exactly something to be alarmed about, but in issuing the translation the book's title has been altered.

In the above picture of the Indonesian version of the book, the title reads "Menerjang Harapan: Dari Jakarta Menuju Gedung Putih". We took the title and plugged it in to one of the many Indonesian to English translators that can be found online and this is what popped out:

Attack Hope: from Jakarta headed the White House

We're told the correct translation of the books English title, "The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming The American Dream", would be "Keberanian Harapan: Pemikiran Untuk Meraih Kembali Impian America"
The problem with direct translations is that often times they never make sense. The words "menerjang" (assault or attack) and "harapan" (hope or expectation) make sense when used separately, but used together, the term "menerjang harapan" makes no sense in Indonesian. But while the term makes no sense, it does however present a mental picture to the native Indonesian speaker, the imagery of a "hopeful assault" a "struggle for victory" or to put it more bluntly, a "jihad", or as the Indonesians see it, Obama's "jihad" for the Whitehouse. [1]

So is the title change a simple mistake by the publisher or something more? We'll have to wait until the rest of the book has been translated back into English to find out.

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