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Huang CanRan

translated by the author and Meredith Quartermain

News translator Zhu Botian
was translating the news of NATO
bombing Kosovo and Serbia,
in which there was a list
of bombarded Kosovo towns, including
Pristina, Prizren,
Wuteqien, Genilanei,
Jiakeweica and Pec.
He'd never heard of Wuteqien,
nor did it appear in the Dictionary of Foreign Geographic Names.
Since these towns had strange names
which readers didn't know,
he thought, why not delete them and put
'Pristina, Prizren and other towns'?
He was sure his boss wouldn't care; but,
considering his duty, he thought, this jerrybuilding's no good,
so he checked the voluminous Geographic Dictionary of the World,
and found that Wuteqien was Vucitrn and Genilanei was Gnjilane.
For Jiakeweica he found no equivalent,
and he guessed that the chance was slight
of finding it in the smaller Foreign dictionary.
He understood that –keweica could be translated as –kovica,
but was not sure about Jia, though he knew it formed the beginning
of many place names in Arabic and Muslim countries,
and could be translated Dja.
At last he found in the World dictionary
an Albanian name which began with Jia,
and was translated Dja,
and since most Kosovo residents
were Albanian, he was certain that Dja was right,
so he translated Jiakeweica as Djakovica. To confirm this,
he picked up the Foreign dictionary, hoping
that by a fluke he'd find a full equivalent. He really was lucky!
He found one! It really was Djakovica! But,
considering these towns were insignificant,
and his boss and readers wouldn't care,
he again deleted them, leaving only
'Pristina, the capital of Kosovo [this explanation
was necessary for the convenience of readers],
and Prizren.' But
again he thought of faithfulness,
above all he realized that in these places
civilians had been killed,
dozens of others wounded,
and still more houses destroyed.
He clicked the mouse again,
to replace the deleted names,
so the whole passage read,
'Pristina, the capital of Kosovo, and Prizren,
Wucitrn, Gnjilane, Djakovica and Pec.'
He knew well that his boss might be impatient
and might delete what he'd undone,
perhaps even sweep away 'Prizren,' leaving only
'Pristina, the capital of Kosovo, and other towns,'
or sweep away the towns altogether and put 'Kosovo' –
everyone knew Kosovo.


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