BASRA, IRAQ – During a military occupation locals often have to take whatever job they can get: at times that choice leads to their death.
There is an old Italian saying ‘traduttore, traditore‘ which in English is rendered as ‘the translator is a traitor‘. Pretty harsh, eh? In effect what this phrase means is that no translation can ever fully convey the full depth of meaning, emotion, and context as the original work intended.
These shortcomings notwithstanding, translators (and interpreters) are necessary to enable communication among different language speakers. In the absence of a ‘universal tongue’ – Esperanto never got there despite its hopeful creators – those who take input from language A and render it into language B play an important role. And some have paid for this with their lives.
On this day in 2004
Two Iraqi women working as translators for the British army were killed by unknown gunmen, the day after the slaying of two American coalition officials and their translator by attackers disguised as police. The Iraqis were killed as they were driving home in a taxi in Basra when gunmen stopped the vehicle and opened fire on them.
They’ll try to attack what’s been successful for the Iraqis. They’ll try to kill a lot of people without getting injured themselves.Maj. Gen. Raymond Odierno
While the motive for the attack was not immediately known guerrillas had been targeting Iraqis working with the U.S.-led occupation. In Basra specifically, which was patrolled by the British military, there were a number of killings blamed on Shiite militias enforcing Islamic law. Whatever the reason, two women making ends meet in an occupied country paid with their lives.
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