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Sunday, August 17, 2014

They Dropped the Ball and the Bomb

1. They Dropped the Ball and the Bomb

In July 1945, during WW2, the United States issued the Potsdam Declaration, demanding the surrender of Japan. Japanese Premier Kantaro Suzuki called a news conference and issued a statement that was supposed to be interpreted as “No comment. We’re still thinking about it.”

However, that is not what got translated.

Why? Because Suzuki used the word “mokusatsu”. The problem is, “mokusatsu” can also mean “we’re ignoring it in contempt,” and that translation was what was relayed back to the American government. Of course, this angered President Truman, and thus fell the atomic bomb on Hiroshima 10 days later.

If the alternate meanings of “mokusatsu” were known, who knows what could have happened differently.
Posted in Culture, Humor!, Language, Uncategorized | Tagged historical translation blunders, lackuna, language blog, mistranslations, translation mistakes