I’m currently working on a translation of what will hopefully become an application for funds before 10 am the coming Wednesday. The actual work I’m doing is really stretching my creative abilities in terms of translating bureaucratic gobbledygook from one language to another. The real challenge lies in containing the somewhat shady or outright meaningless semantics while keeping up appearances at the same time.
This would be so much easier if I had known what the hell I’m talking about.
I mean, we all know what peace-building means, right? Or do we?
Because I am translating and proof-reading (that’s lol, I know, kthx) more and more letters for different parties, I am subjected to an increasing amount of umbrella terms that are thoughtlessly accepted in bureaucracy. But as a philosopher, and an existentialist at that, I tend to look for what the hell they are actually saying. I have more than once returned a text I’m supposed to read back to its author with big, red lines indicating WTF are you going on about here?! Most of these words are so contextually dependent that they lose all weight when they are taken out of context. And bureaucratic papers are always trying to be brief, important, and presupposes prior knowledge of the case. The result is that everyone has their own general idea of what they talk about, but in a generalized context they might not even have a clue what it’s really about.
Listing projects on peace-implementation.. all right.
In one context it could be deployment of peacekeeping troops. In another the building of a bridge, local infrastructure, digging wells etc. In yet another it could mean the introduction of new political friendship of a formerly unstable relationship between conflicting groups. Put all of this into one list, one letter, one generalized context, and every mention of ‘peace-implementation’ becomes meaningless.
I have come to the realization that if you take this nonsense away from a bureaucrat, his world will vanish into thin air. Which it has, I should add, never demarcated itself from. I mean, many of these million dollar sentences are just as meaningful and important as the stuff I scribble down when I’m trying to be artistic half past four in a strip joint somewhere. It could be important, who knows? But you have to understand it first.. Anyway.. Time for me to get to get to bed and let the terms float freely!