Translator as imperialist conspirator


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From the Lonely Planet Ethiopian Amharic Phrasebook:

“Colonial powers were shameless in their efforts to conquer Ethiopia, even resorting to a tactic of mistranslating state documents.

In 1889, Ethiopia’s Emperor Menelik II signed the Treaty of Wechale with the Italian government. The treaty allowed for an Italian protectorate to be established over Ethiopia. At least, that’s what the Italian version said–the Amharic version mentioned no such thing! Menelik only discovered the deception when Britain and Germany refused invitations to his coronation on the grounds that he was meant to communicate with them ‘via the Italian government’. Menelik stopped the Italian expansion into the country by famously defeating them at the Battle of Adwa (northern Ethiopia) in 1896.”

About Verla

Wordfreak. Linguist. WA State licensed P.I. #3377. Principal, Viera Investigations. Spanish-English interpreter. Sole proprietor, Encanto Language Services. Erstwhile librarian. Texan by birth, cheesehead by upbringing, latina by soul, PacNWer by choice. Jewelry artist, Different Drummer Designs. Owner, world’s most gigantic dachshund. Driver, world’s almost smallest car. Chocoholic. Lover of things purple.
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