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What If Pope Francis' Translators Translated Other Stuff In History? - by John Clark

What If Pope Francis’ Translators Translated Other Stuff In History?

1 minute

Pope Francis is one of the most mistranslated people in the history of the world.

Rarely is he the victim of minor and unimportant details. It is not simply that the translators could have chosen a slightly better word than the one they used; in many cases, the problem goes well beyond that.

His “translators” sometimes change the entire meaning of what Pope Francis actually said.

These “translations” (and I put that word in quotes for obvious reasons) are beyond bad. They are beyond embarrassing. In fact, some are actually hoaxes, yet they are quoted and re-tweeted anyway.

Especially when you consider the simultaneous underreporting of his more traditional statements, it raises the question of whether there is a deliberate intent behind many of these mistranslations. In fact, in many cases, the translations seem not to be what he said, but instead, are what non-Catholic media outlets seem to wish he said.

This got me thinking: what if the media “translators” of Pope Francis were hired to translate other famous quotations in history?

I think we could expect the following.

St. Augustine

What If Pope Francis' Translators Translated Other Stuff In History? - by John Clark | St Augustine

Original Latin: “Dilige et quod vis fac.”
English translation: “Love, and do as you will.”
Media translation: “Do whatever you want.”

King Louis XV of France

What If Pope Francis' Translators Translated Other Stuff In History? - by John Clark | King Louis XIV of France

Original French: “Apres moi, les deluge.”
Actual translation: “After me, the flood.”
Media translation: “After breakfast, we swim.”

Desiderius Erasmus

What If Pope Francis' Translators Translated Other Stuff In History? - by John Clark | Erasmus

Original Latin: “In regione caecorum rex est luscus.”
English translation: “In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.”
Media translation: “In his own land, the king goes only on blind dates.”

John F. Kennedy

What If Pope Francis' Translators Translated Other Stuff In History? - by John Clark | John F. Kennedy

Original German: “Ich bin ein Berliner.”
English translation: “I am a Berliner.”
Media translation: “I am a Parisian.”

Cardinal Richelieu (attributed)

What If Pope Francis' Translators Translated Other Stuff In History? - by John Clark | Cardinal Richelieu

Original French: “La trahison est seulement une question de dates.”
Actual translation: “Treason is only a question of dates.”
Media translation: “Fresh dates are delicious when eaten in season.”

Julius Caesar

What If Pope Francis' Translators Translated Other Stuff In History? - by John Clark | Julius Caesar

Original Latin: “Veni, vidi, vici”
Actual translation: “I came. I saw. I conquered.”
Media translation: “Capitalism is evil.”

Alexander Dumas

What If Pope Francis' Translators Translated Other Stuff In History? - by John Clark | Alexandre Dumas

Original French: “Tous pour un, un pour tous.”
English translation: “All for one, one for all.”
Media translation: “Socialism is great.”

Dante Alighieri

What If Pope Francis' Translators Translated Other Stuff In History? - by John Clark | Dante Aleghieri

Original Italian: “Lasciate ogni speranza, voi ch’entrate.”
English translation: “Abandon all hope, you who enter here.”
Media translation: “The Church must change its position on marriage.”

Going forward, when it comes to translations of Pope Francis, may I be bold enough to suggest a plan? When you hear that Pope Francis said something that sounds improbable or impossible for a pope to say, try to fight the urge to post it on your Facebook page or tweet it. Instead, relax. Have a cup of coffee and wait a few days for an accurate translation to come your way.

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About John Clark

John Clark
John Clark is a homeschooling father, a speechwriter, an online course developer for Seton Home Study School, and a weekly blogger for The National Catholic Register. His latest book is “How to be a Superman Dad in a Kryptonite World, Even When You Can’t Afford a Decent Cape.”
  • susan d

    Very good point!! Thank you!

    • John Clark

      Thanks!

  • Sean

    Nice; one note: “Apres moi, les deluge” is attributed to King Louis XV, not Louis XIV.

    • KevClark64

      Thanks for the catch. This has now been corrected.

  • KevClark64

    Regarding the traditional Mass, the provision banning use seems to be limited only to a particular community of Franciscans, the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate. This coincided with appointing a new leader of the community, so it seems the Vatican thought there may be some issues to address with this group. I’m not sure that should be taken as a sign of general hostility to the traditional Mass. Here’s a link: http://www.catholicculture.org/news/headlines/index.cfm?storyid=18607

  • AwesomeScienceDude

    LOL! I was laughing all the way through it! Cardinal Richlieu’s was the funniest! You have a good point there, though. His translations do seem to change his meaning entirely.

  • MEY

    Funny! Bookmarking this for next occurrence of lost in translation.

  • JoeWilson

    Should the Vatican prevent this from happening? Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me!

  • Terry

    Ich bin ein Berliner = Berlin is a trashcan of fleas

    • Sgt P

      Many have tried to claim he said “I am a jelly doughnut” or “I am a hotdog” and I chalk it up to commie haters gotta hate.

      • big b

        If you say, “Ich bin Berliner” you are saying “I am a Berliner”. No “ein” needed. The “ein” (or “a”, in English) makes it into “a jelly doughnut”.

  • … and he would have had a year and a half to find out about this, right?

  • Random Person

    Which translations specifically? What was the name of the person that did it, and what is their official job title?

  • Pingback: Pope Francis: Big Bang theory does not contradict role of God()

  • Doc

    “Ich bin ein Berliner” the way Kennedy said it meant “I’m a donut.”

  • Pingback: Pope Francis, The Francis Effect & The Media - BigPulpit.com()

  • KevClark64

    Pope Francis has spoken out about the Nigerian school girl abductions. For instance, he tweeted, “Let us all join in prayer for the immediate release of the schoolgirls kidnapped in Nigeria.”

    Regarding appointments, Pope Francis recently appointed Cardinal Robert Sarah, who is widely viewed as a conservative, to be head of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.

  • John Clark

    Frustrated by the intentional misreading of the writings of his predecessor, Pope Saint Pius X wrote the following: “…(W)ith an affectation of great submission and respect, they proceeded to twist the words of the Pontiff to their own sense…”
    Pope Pius X, “Pascendi”

  • Paul S.

    lol funny stuff.
    That said, a little critique of capitalism never hurt anyone… and socialism as we know it today needn’t necessarily be the godless Bolshevism the popes have condemned in the past.
    cheers,
    Paul
    class of ’08

  • Paradox

    I can only imagine how they would translate “ordo ab chao.”
    Maybe something like “Let’s try it ’till is works.”

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