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  1. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    20160219-175011-9yq42.
    Various news reports say that Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev suggested a "New World War" was possible in Syria. However the Russian government english translation of the interview simply says "a new war in the world", which suggests simply an additional war. The official Russian transcript says: "очередную войну на Земле." which might possibly be translated as "a new ground war", which makes sense in context, but is vastly different to "a new world war".

    Typical western news story with quotes and paraphrasing:
    http://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-syria-idUSKCN0VK22O


    Official Russian government english translation:
    http://government.ru/en/news/21765/


    With the Russian Version (presumably his actual words)
    http://government.ru/news/21765/


    So what did he actually say? The interview is with the German newspaper Hanelsblatt, here:
    http://www.handelsblatt.com/my/poli...edjew-warnt-vor-neuem-weltkrieg/12952660.html


    "neuen Weltkrieg" is German for "New World War". Presumably though Medvedev was speaking in Russian through a translator into German, and the Russian transcript is the original.

    That official Russian transcript says: "очередную войну на Земле." Which google translates as "another war in the world" (the same as the Official Russian Translation). войну (war) на (in) Земле ([the] world). Facebook translated it as "another war on earth". However the Russian for "world war", seems to be: "мировой войны", with "мировая" having the meanings "world, global, or worldwide". Whereas Земле translates as "earth, land, or ground".

    That suggests a better translation might have been "a new ground war", which is vastly different to "a new world war".

    The actual Russian for "ground war" is "наземную войну" (similar to войну на земную),and the Russian for "war on the ground" is "войну наземную" This seems to support that he was saying "ground war", not "world war".
     
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2016
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  3. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    Added some notes on the Russian transcript, possibly a mistranslation. Any native Russian speakers?
     
  4. txt29

    txt29 Active Member

    I speak some Russian. All Mick tells is correct. Just there is a very small detail that can make a big difference. It is the capital letter "З" on "Земля". Земля [zemlya] with lower caps means "ground", "earth", or "country" but if upper caps is used, it can mean "Earth", "Globe", "World". So if he told it, then it is indeed clear he meant "ground war". If he wrote it with the upper case, then it could be "war on Earth", but in Russian it would be as unusual term as in English. Most likely the transcript was simply not done correctly already in Russian.

    EDIT: In Russian there can be also confusion between "world" and "peace", because "мир" [mir] is used for both of them. So it is luck Medvedev spoke just about war, and not about peace, the confusion might have been even worse.
     
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2016
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  5. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    Thank you. So given that the interview was face to face with a translator:
    [​IMG]
    and given the unusual phrasing (which even in text is not used for "World War"), then it seems almost certain that his meaning was "ground war", a "war on the ground".
     
  6. txt29

    txt29 Active Member

  7. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    Hmm, certainty dwindles.
     
  8. txt29

    txt29 Active Member

    So, sorry, I think it was a false alert from me finally. After reading the article, I see they speak exclusively about the risk of the next ground war.
     
  9. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    Yes, it seems like they simply use the same phrasing (reading in translation). Not really talking about an actual World War.
     
  10. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    There seems to be some discussion of this in Russian here:
    http://www.ukrrudprom.com/digest/Osnovnie_tezisi_intervyu_Medvedeva_nemetskoy_Handelsblatt.html


    Which suggests the Russian writer has recognized the mistranslation.
     
  11. txt29

    txt29 Active Member

    Well, it is really strange, and perhaps even on purpose directly so from Medvedev. He speaks about the risks of a ground war and that it can take decades if they start ground operations, just like in Afghanistan, but then he indeed uses the above mentioned sentence, and they write it everywhere in the newspapers with the capital letter, and it is written in such way that it can be understood as global war. Anyway, it is unimportant - he does not tell it in the sense of a threat, but rather he expresses the concern.
     
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2016
  12. txt29

    txt29 Active Member

    I think it was really the purpose to fog the sentence in the way that it is not clear what exactly he meant. Anyway it is clear he did not tell "World War" directly, he told "not to start the next war on Earth". We should simply accept he told it ambiguously on purpose to avoid using the term "World War", but probably meant a global war anyway. In this specific sentence, it was not the simple "ground war", that he spoke about just before that.
     
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2016
  13. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    This has been covered before, but not mentioning the possible "ground war" meaning.
    http://www.rferl.org/content/world-war-medvedev-translation-tempest-handelsblatt/27549372.html


    Also from RT, who presumably have Russian speakers
    https://www.rt.com/news/332273-reuters-misquotes-medvedev-war/


    "War on Earth" is a bit different from the official Russian translation of "war in the world". Remember the capitalization makes the same difference in English as Russian here. "Earth" is "The world", but "earth" is "ground". So "war on earth" could be taken either way verbally.
     
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2016
  14. txt29

    txt29 Active Member

    As I wrote, on my mind the expression was ambiguous on purpose, and quite wittingly. That's nothing new with Russians, or actually with any politicians.
     
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  15. Trailspotter

    Trailspotter Senior Member

    As a native Russian speaker, I am quite certain that he did not mean "World War". Because, if he did, he invariably would refer to it as "Мировая война". And he would not call it "Очередная" meaning 'next', 'yet another', but "Новая" (new) or "Третья" (third) World War.

    Also, I do not think that "Война на Земле" actually means "ground war", but this may be a close translation of Russian political terminology, in which "Война" (war) is defined not by a mere presence of troops on the ground, but by a large scale of fighting and extent of involvement of fighting sides. Otherwise it could be 'downgraded' to 'armed conflict' or 'military intervention' etc.
     
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  16. rubunk

    rubunk New Member

    I think Trailspotter is spot on. Medvedev clearly doesn't make any reference to any world war. I can't see any significant ambiguity either but leave the finer nuances to T. and other native Russian speakers to judge. A strange, unfortunate and rather gross translation error.
     
  17. txt29

    txt29 Active Member

    It is partially off-topic here, and should be perhaps moved to the original thread, but since you asked for it, here you go - just a few links from the top of Google results (there are many more of them):
    Медведев рассказал, когда начнется третья мировая
    Roman Burko on Twitter: "#Медведев недоспал или обкурился ...
    Медведев: Действия США и арабских государств в Сирии могут привести к Третьей мировой
    Новотека: Новости - Медведев призвал не провоцировать ...

    Of course, they all may be wrong, and Medvedev in fact did not intend to make any ambiguous statement at all (though I doubt it), but as you can see, not all Russians share your opinion that there was no ambiguity. Better told, some of them seem to think there was indeed no ambiguity, but unlike you, they are persuaded he did mean World War, not a ground war. So I cannot help myself, and have to keep my stand on the ambiguity of Medvedev's statement. And I bet it would be similar with the expression "через несколько минут".
     
  18. Trailspotter

    Trailspotter Senior Member

    I've browsed these links. The last one is to an integrator site that contains relevant headlines from various Russian language sites. Interestingly, practically all sites with the words Third World War ("третья мировая война") in the headline are Ukrainian (.ua) ones. They do not even quote the Medvedev's exact words: “нужно заставить сесть за стол переговоров, а не начинать очередную войну на Земле” but simply translate back a Western headline. There are two Russian (.ru) sites with the words "World War" in the headline, one (the third link above) is a repost from an Israeli site, the other enclosed these words in the quotation marks. All other Russian sites avoid using these words all together, with many of them quoting the Medvedev's interview as in the official transcript. The first link also appears in the same integrator site and is to the network that serves both Russian and Ukrainian users, whereas the second link is to the twitter of some Ukrainian guy with apparent antipathy to Kremlin and Russia.

    All this is to say that those "Russians", who in your opinion were "persuaded he did mean World War", did not bother to check and tell their readers what Medvedev did actually say, but instead spread the bunk to runet. Regrettably, spreading propaganda and disinformation is common to both Russian and Ukrainian sides of the ongoing informational war.
     
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2016
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  19. txt29

    txt29 Active Member

    You may be right, may be not. The problem is the original formulation indeed was ambiguous. And the official transcript only confirms it. Although from the verbal comment of Medvedev we cannot tell whether he meant "ground" or "the Earth", the official transcript clearly writes "война на Земле" - Zemlya with uppercase Z. In the moment the uppercase Z is used, it is no more "ground", it is "the Earth". Medvedev might have meant the ground, but either he wanted to be ambiguous, or he has chosen a very unfortunate formulation and authorized a faulty official transcript. He could easily use many terms that would not cause any controversy (for example "наземная война"), but he did not. Whether it was intentional or accidental, we'll never know, but I would not be surprised at all if he wanted to spread a bit of "shock and awe". And I do not mean it negatively - US politicians do it too (and not only them).
     
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2016
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  20. Trailspotter

    Trailspotter Senior Member

    No, it was not. His statement in Russian was clear, I explained it above (#14).
     
  21. txt29

    txt29 Active Member

    Trailspotter, I see you marked my post with "Diasagree". That's fine, but could you explain with what exactly you disagree? Do you want to tell that I am wrong when I tell that the uppercase Z in the official transcript changes the meaning from 'ground' to 'the Earth'? That would be new to me, and I would appreciate if you could show me that the grammatical rule changed since I learned it.
     
  22. Trailspotter

    Trailspotter Senior Member

    See my previous post. I disagree with your notion of ambiguity of Medvedev's statement. He did not mean "new World War". And, as I explained previously (#14), he probably did not mean a ground war either, despite being asked about the possibility of "[military] operations on the ground" in Syria. He replied that such operations as a rule would lead to a permanent war [in the Middle East]. Then he added that a better solution, which both Russia and America were forcing on the warring parties, was "…to sit at the negotiating table, instead of unleashing yet another war on Earth [that is, our planet]", which is the closest English translation of his actual words.
     
  23. txt29

    txt29 Active Member

    I am sorry but you are ambiguous too. You tell you disagree with my claim about the ambiguity of the expression "война на Земле", but in the same time you confirm he told neither World War, nor ground war. That's exactly what I tell too, and I do not understand why you tell you disagree when in fact you confirm you agree.

    Medveded used the ambiguous term "война на Земле", which can be translated as "war on the ground" (if lowercase Z used in the word zemlya when written), but it can be also translated as "war on the Earth/Globe/World" when uppercase Z used in written form. It is possible that the official transcription used the uppercase form incorrectly, but it only confirms the ambiguity of Medvedev's expression. If it were not ambiguous, the transcriptor would never think about using the uppercase form. And I would expect that the persons who wrote, corrected, and authorized the official transcription master the Russian grammar well enough to be aware of the important difference between земля and Земля.

    So no, I do not claim Medvedev meant "World War" as well as I do not tell he meant "ground war". I claim he used an expression that is uncertain/neutral/ambiguous - it can be understood both ways or neither of them. This is exactly what I mean be the ambiguity, and you just confirmed you consider his expression indifferent/uncertain/ambiguous too.

    The mistake of the transcriptor and of the translator was that they did not respect the ambiguity of the expression - by pronouncing the world земля Medvedev did not assign it any specific meaning - neither земля (ground, land, soil, earth, territory, floor, deck,...) nor Земля (the Earth, the World, the Globe,...). The official transcriptor and the translator correctly ought to keep the exact ambiguity in their text too. It was not their role to pick up one of the meanings (edit: unless it was consulted with Medvedev self).
     
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2016
  24. Trailspotter

    Trailspotter Senior Member

    There is no ambiguity in Russian transcript. The upper case "З" was used correctly, he did mean the war on our planet, not on the ground. Your perceived ambiguity is "acquired in translation". If Medvedev had meant "ground war", he probably would say "наземная война", in the same way as he referred to the "operations on the ground" ("наземные операции"). In this context, "война на земле" simply does not sound right in Russian (AFAIR, there was no such a term in the time of my military training some forty years ago). Neither actually does "наземная война", because "война" (war) is a big deal in Russian, which involves all military might: Army, Air Force, Navy etc. It usually is not subdivided into separate "wars" on the ground, in the air, at sea etc. Instead, it is divided into various "operations". Thus the logic of Medvedev's answer was simple and clear: if the ground operations proposed by some countries were integrated together with the ongoing air attacks, it would be a new war in the whole region.
     
  25. txt29

    txt29 Active Member

    OK, so it looks like we can finally settle down on the proper translation - "a big deal war on our planet", or perhaps "a major conflict on our planet". Although Medvedev did not explicitly tell "a World war", the meaning used by the translator lets the message through anyway - Medvedev spoke about the risk of sparking a major conflict.

    So again, the translator could/should use a more ambiguous/uncertain term than the "World War", but basically a major conflict was meant anyway. A "World War" is too specific, a "major conflict on the Planet" is perhaps less - it can mean anything from a big war between Russians + Assad (and possibly their allies) against the opposition (and possibly couple of Arabic allies) over a bigger war involving other parties (i.e. Turkey, EU, USA, Israel...), up to a global war. That's the ambiguity lost in the translation. Thanks for confirming it.
     
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  26. txt29

    txt29 Active Member

    To verify this claim, I have checked the use of the expression "война на земле" (lowercase Z on zemlya) on Russian websites and in Russian literature. I won't mention the quite frequent use of the term on Russian websites, because you could justly argue that their Russian grammar is simply not on the level it should be, and some of them may have been created due to a sloppy reverse translation of the English term "ground war". But the term "война на земле" (lowercase!) is used in original Russian literature and journals too. Some examples below:
    There are many more. Most of them refer to a "war on the ground", or if you want "ground war" or "ground operations". It looks like not all Russians share your opinion that «"война на земле" simply does not sound right in Russian».
     
  27. Trailspotter

    Trailspotter Senior Member

    I said "in this context", that is, in the context of the Medvedev's interview. "Война на земле" is not a Russian military or political term, that could be equivalent to English "ground war".
    However, in literature, the expression "война на земле" may well refer to the ground battles fought during a war. Similarly, the Navy battles may be called as "война на море" and those involving aircraft and antiaircraft defence as "война в небе" etc. But these would be different actions of one and the same war, not different separate wars, just like in your example above:
    "Это была война на земле, в небе и на море, война политиков, шпионов,... "
     
  28. txt29

    txt29 Active Member

    "Война на земле" is as little a Russian military or political term as is the term "война на Земле". That's why it is highly ambiguous, and that's exactly why it sparked the controversy. "Война на Земле" (war on the Planet) is already ambiguous alone, because it is not clear whether a local, regional, or a global war is meant (though a global/total war comes to the mind first, of course), but adding the meaning of "война на земле" (war on the ground) widens the ambiguity even more.

    The ambiguity can be usually excluded by the context, but it was not the case in the speech of Medvedev. If he wanted to exclude the ambiguity, he would either use a proper unambiguous military/political term (as you correctly tell), or would use a context specifying closer what exactly he meant. He did neither of that. This brings me back to the same conclusion - the ambiguity was either intentional with the purpose of bringing up a controversy, or it was accidental.

    EDIT: and anyway, your claim that "Война на земле" is not a Russian military or political term, that could be equivalent to English "ground war" is clear nonsense - several of the examples from Russian literature I posted above, come from military literature. For example already the first one describing ground operations in Poland during the WWII, using the term "Война на земле" directly in the title. To me it looks like that you, as a Russian, are biased and unable or unwilling to be objective in this case.
     
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2016
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  29. Trailspotter

    Trailspotter Senior Member

    I am taking this as an offence. So far, I was trying to explain some nuances of Russian language, but your objective in this discussion appears to discredit my arguments, not to clarify them.

    Yes, "Война на земле" directly in the title of a book about WWII tells the potential reader that this book is especially about the ground operations of the Second World War, whereas the naval and other operations of this war will be presented elsewhere. It is a headline for the content that could be more explicitly described as "боевые действия второй мировой войны, которые велись на земле". However, this expression (with lowercase "з") does not combine well with the adjective "очередная" (next), that was used by Medvedev. It goes well in the expressions "очередная война" (the next [big] war), "очередная стадия войны" (the next stage of [ongoing] war), but the qualification "очередная война на земле" (the next ground war) makes little sense in Russian.

    Anyway, welcome to my ignore list.
     
  30. txt29

    txt29 Active Member

    No offence was intended. Nobody is objective and unbiased all the time, especially when it concerns personal affinities.

    I see no evidence for accepting your argumentation, but do not mind at all following your wish and excluding the meaning "next ground war". That's finally what both the official transcript and the translation did too. So yes, the correct translation, as we already agreed, should have been "the next war on the Planet". Although pretty close to the used translation "next World War", it would keep the same ambiguity of the sentence. Because we do not know what kind of war Medvedev exactly meant. In the context of "the Planet", the term World War certainly pops up first, but it is true that this translation, unlike the original expression, does not let any doubts about what kind of conflict is discussed. If Medvedev simply told "a next war", "next major regional war", or "next global/total war", (or even "a next ground war") instead of referring to the Earth, it would have been clearer what he meant.
     
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2016