Sunday, March 8, 2009

Don't Ever Push the Red Button

Last week Hillary Clinton went to Geneva, Switzerland to make nice with the Russians after eight years of George W. Bush making double-plus un-nice.

During her meeting with Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov, Secretary Clinton presented him with a "reset button" to symbolize a new beginning with the United States.

Much was made of our translation of "reset." During dinner Clinton said, "We worked hard to get the right Russian word. Do you think we got it?"

Mr. Lavrov, apparently not one to overly worry about hurting others' feelings, replied, "You got it wrong. 'Peregruzka' means 'overload'."

(As an aside, they worked hard at this? Isn't the U.S. government supposed to have some people who speak really good Russian on staff? And they still got it wrong?)

To my (admittedly limited) knowledge, neither Lavrov or Clinton made any mention of -- or even gave much thought to -- the button's appearance, which looks to me like the sort of thing you might push when you want to blow something up.

Or overload it.


John Bliss said...

This guy makes an interesting point: "I wasn't outraged about the mistranslation, since perezagruzka is a new term and isn't in the dictionaries and I could understand how the mistake might have come about, but using Roman letters instead of Cyrillic? What the hell, people? Didn't anyone realize they use a different alphabet over there?"

John Bliss said...

Of course, the other thing I thought when I saw this was, "Staples should sue their ass."