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Huh?

Reuters, among others, reports:

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met Russia's foreign minister on Friday, symbolically presenting him with a red "reset" button to improve ties that sank to a post-Cold War low during the Bush administration....

"I would like to present you with a little gift that represents what President Obama and Vice-President Biden and I have been saying and that is: 'We want to reset our relationship and so we will do it together,[']" said Clinton, presenting Lavrov with a palm-sized yellow box with a red reset button.

Clinton and Lavrov had dinner on the 18th floor of the Intercontinental Hotel in Geneva.

They joked about the Russian misspelling of "reset" on the button before sitting down at an oval table with aides. "We worked hard to get the right Russian word. Do you think we got it?" Clinton asked. "You got it wrong," said Lavrov, telling her "Peregruzka" meant "overcharge." ...

How does that happen? Unless I'm unfamiliar with some alternative meaning — and one that the Russian foreign minister was unfamiliar with, too — "peregruzka" doesn't remotely mean "reset." "Gruz" means "load," and "pere-" means "over-"; "peregruzka" means "overload." (I take it that "overcharge" is used in the story to mean an excess of an electric charge, which is to say an electrical overload, not "overcharge" in the more common English sense of charging too much money.) Doesn't the State Department have fluent translators to do such things? Or am I indeed missing some alternative meaning?

Thanks to InstaPundit for the pointer to the story.

Tatyana:
It's a case of misspelling (and someone no doubt will be loosing a job over it)
reload in Russian is spelled as «перезагрузку»
However, the button had an inscription of «перегрузка» translated as overcharge.
3.6.2009 8:27pm
Tatyana:
«перезагрузкa» - reload
«перегрузка» - overcharge
3.6.2009 8:28pm
J. Aldridge:
I'd just used the English word since Lavrov is fluent in English.
3.6.2009 8:44pm
Barbara Skolaut (mail):
Lousy translation or bad proofreading - neither engenders great faith in the present administration.

Or am I indeed missing some alternative meaning?
Howzabout it means the clowns in D.C. are idiots?
3.6.2009 8:44pm
Josh644 (mail):
It's a case of misspelling (and someone no doubt will be loosing a job over it)

Irony?
3.6.2009 8:45pm
Tatyana:
Well, guys, not exactly. Russian is a complex language, and term like "reset" is really more-less in the computerized vocabulary (that's why 'overcharge' was closer translation as in an electrical overcharge as Eugene pointed out in his post, rather than classical 'overload').

To be honest, as a russian speaker перезагрузкa (pronounced as pereZAgruzka, not peregruzka as Americans mistakenly written) sounds pretty lame.

In my opinion, they should have stuck to English. This translates poorly even if it was spelled correctly. Any native speaker could have told them that.
3.6.2009 8:48pm
mls (www):
Is this "gag gift" diplomacy?
3.6.2009 8:49pm
jccamp (mail):
Maybe it was overload in the alternative usage, as in the vernacular: "allowing one's mouth to overload your ass."

But the State Department would never allow that to occur.
3.6.2009 8:49pm
Desiderius:
"Do you think we got it?"

Well, at least we were appropriately desperate in our approval-seeking.
3.6.2009 8:51pm
John (mail):
What do Russian GFI outlets say on them in place of "reset" on ours?
3.6.2009 8:51pm
BTD Greg:
So, JFK, LBJ, Nixon, and Reagan all work hard to make sure the Russians never start a nuclear war and the first thing Obama and Clinton do is present them with a red button and encourage them to push it?

Nice.
3.6.2009 8:53pm
karl m (mail):
It could be worse . Ask Gordon Brown who received a 25 dvds ( region 1) of ET , Star Wars, Lawrence of Arabia and Oz..
3.6.2009 8:53pm
Tatyana:
LOL, John:
it's just a tiny red button (and no warning labels either)
3.6.2009 8:53pm
FantasiaWHT:

So, JFK, LBJ, Nixon, and Reagan all work hard to make sure the Russians never start a nuclear war and the first thing Obama and Clinton do is present them with a red button and encourage them to push it?


There's no way this comment will be beat. Wrap up the thread and tie a bow on it.
3.6.2009 8:57pm
Cornellian (mail):
They should have given him 3 buttons, "Ctrl" "Alt" and "Delete" and told him to push all 3 at once.
3.6.2009 9:09pm
armchairpunter:
Even had the cheesy gift communicated what our smart diplomat intended, to which period of U.S. - Russian relations are we hoping to reset?
3.6.2009 9:11pm
tsotha:
My friends and I have been talking about this all day. The only conclusion we could come up with is Hillary was set up by Obama supporters at State. Nothing else makes sense.

Huh. Maybe the last guy wasn't so dumb after all, picking a gal that spoke fluent Russian.
3.6.2009 9:14pm
sonicfrog (mail) (www):
"Overcharge"? It sounds like this administration to me!
3.6.2009 9:15pm
Cornellian (mail):
Doesn't the State Department have fluent translators to do such things?

Yeah, but it turned out they were gay, so they were all fired in the national interest and now we just rely on Google for translating when dealing with the Russians.
3.6.2009 9:24pm
Jon Roland (mail) (www):
Back when I was in DC in the 1970-72 timeframe, and worked with members of Congress on a project that involved getting some letters from them translated into the languages of their counterparts in several NATO countries, the other members of my team were willing to use the Congressional Research Service for some of them, and State Department translators for others. I doubted the competence of both, but got agreement to send out letters to a sample of recipients as a test. The response confirmed my doubts. The CRS and State translaters were marginally competent to translate from foreign languages into English, but not the other way. I took the letters to diplomatic personnel at the embassies of the target countries, who were competent at translating into their languages. That worked and we sent the letters to all the recipients, to good effect. (but without the element of surprise that had been intended.)

The point is that the best translators don't work for our government, then or, apparently, now.

And that should scare everyone.
3.6.2009 9:31pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

Yeah, but it turned out they were gay, so they were all fired in the national interest and now we just rely on Google for translating when dealing with the Russians.
State Department employees aren't subject to military rules about this.
3.6.2009 9:34pm
jukeboxgrad's favorite YouTube video:
Yeah, but it turned out they were gay, so they were all fired in the national interest and now we just rely on Google for translating when dealing with the Russians.

Now now, just because you can speak Russian it doesn't mean you're a homosexual. It's just really, really likely.
3.6.2009 9:43pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
When KAL 007 was shot down, the DoD was unable to correctly translate the recorded communications of the Red Air Force.

A friend of mine corrected the government version -- for that nasty MSM NYT
3.6.2009 9:45pm
keypusher64 (mail):
Well, at least we were appropriately desperate in our approval-seeking.

Yes, exactly. Did we have to go straight from arrogance to self-abasement? Maybe we could give dignity, respect and good manners a try.
3.6.2009 9:47pm
Cornellian (mail):

State Department employees aren't subject to military rules about this.


I was, of course, joking.
3.6.2009 9:47pm
Cornellian (mail):
Did we have to go straight from arrogance to self-abasement?

Why is the word "abasement" never used except in the phrase "self-abasement?"
3.6.2009 9:49pm
An:
She should have given him a set of 25 classic American movies like B Obama gave to the the British PM.
3.6.2009 9:54pm
Cornellian (mail):
She should have given him a set of 25 classic American movies like B Obama gave to the the British PM.

The best part about that idea is that we could have a 300 comment post on VC arguing about which 25 movies should be included, other than Dr. Strangelove which, presumably, would get on the list by acclamation.
3.6.2009 10:02pm
Careless:


Yeah, but it turned out they were gay, so they were all fired in the national interest and now we just rely on Google for translating when dealing with the Russians.

Google gives these results for the verb form

1. вновь устанавливать [тех.]
2. вновь вставлять в оправу
3. вправлять [мед.]
4. набирать заново [полигр.]
5. включать повторно
6. укрывать имущество, добытое заведомо преступным путем
7. переустанавливать
8. укрывать преступника
3.6.2009 10:05pm
Larry Sheldon:
Win lose or draw, this is scary.

They won't be answering the Hot Line, will they.

Please tell me they won't.
3.6.2009 10:06pm
Tatyana (mail):
Careless:
This is funny.
I've translated them (the best I could) back to english below
1. вновь устанавливать [тех.] - reinstate
2. вновь вставлять в оправу - frame insert
3. вправлять [мед.] - set (as in set in)
4. набирать заново [полигр.] - dial again
5. включать повторно - repeated turn on
6. укрывать имущество, добытое заведомо преступным путем - hide (cover up) belongings obtained via illegal ways
7. переустанавливать - rebuild/reinstate/reinstall
8. укрывать преступника - hide out a criminal

Haha

by the way, did anyone think that lawrence of arabia was an interesting choice for a DVD? (especially in the light of recent events - hint hint)
3.6.2009 10:12pm
MarkField (mail):

Why is the word "abasement" never used except in the phrase "self-abasement?"


My house, like most in CA, doesn't have a basement.
3.6.2009 10:13pm
Tim_R:

So, JFK, LBJ, Nixon, and Reagan all work hard to make sure the Russians never start a nuclear war and the first thing Obama and Clinton do is present them with a red button and encourage them to push it?

Yeah, that was my first thought, too. "Well, at least it didn't accidentally say 'launch'."
3.6.2009 10:15pm
http://volokh.com/?exclude=davidb :


Clayton Cramer: State Department employees aren't subject to military rules about this.

Cornellian: I was, of course, joking.

When it comes to homosexuals, Clayton has no sense of humor whatsoever.

Imagine a constipated Joseph Stalin, and you'll get a sense of the amount of humor Clayton usually brings to the topic.
3.6.2009 10:21pm
Bama 1L:
The point is that the best translators don't work for our government, then or, apparently, now.

And that should scare everyone.


Do the best at anything work for our government? I thought that was why we liked privatizing government functions.
3.6.2009 10:30pm
Jim at FSU (mail):
Wait a second, Obama gave a gift of region one DVDs to the UK prime minister?

Most DVD players restrict people from playing DVDs from other regions (its a market segmentation feature the copyright owners put into the DVD specification). This means that not only did Obama get him a stupid gift, but the gift probably won't play on his DVD player anyway.
3.6.2009 10:39pm
dearieme:
"We worked hard to get the right Russian word." Increasingly I find the trope of "working hard" on something or other really tedious. How about accepting that working intelligently, or effectively, is a worthwhile boast? "Working hard" seems both to be an excuse for incompetence and evidence of some sort of unreflective puritanism. Hard work is not a virtue if it is incompetent or ill-directed.
3.6.2009 10:42pm
NickM (mail) (www):
They should have gotten him a Staples EASY button.

Nick
3.6.2009 10:47pm
PubliusFL:
I'm sure that really impressed the Russians. I hope Clinton doesn't show up for her first meeting with the Chinese with a whoopee cushion.
3.6.2009 11:04pm
Ralphe (mail) (www):
Just answer me one question. Why would any administration official make fun of a prior national policy?
3.6.2009 11:04pm
Desiderius:
dearime and keypusher,

Thus are the fruits of our credentialocracy. Brown-nosers uber alles!
3.6.2009 11:05pm
Desiderius:
Ralphe,

"Just answer me one question. Why would any administration official make fun of a prior national policy?"

Arrogance. Shared widely. The assumption that the U.S. is so powerful that factions within it can afford to place inter-factional advantage over the national interest. Goes both ways.
3.6.2009 11:07pm
LM (mail):
Cornellian:

They should have given him 3 buttons, "Ctrl" "Alt" and "Delete" and told him to push all 3 at once.

How do you do that in Linux?
3.6.2009 11:08pm
7598462153:
Jon Roland's comment brought something to mind. Correct me if I'm wrong, but translators are typically hired to translate from a foreign language to their native language, rather than the other way around for a couple of reasons.

First, it is far easier to do this, as anyone who has tried to learn another language can attest. Second, in the case of on-the-fly translation, a native speaker is generally easier to understand both because they are unlikely to have an accent and because they will have a grasp of various idioms unique to a language.

Add to this the inevitable inefficiencies in government operations, and it's not surprising that they botched the translation. Furthermore, I believe Clinton misspoke: what she meant to say was "We hardly worked to get the right Russian word." (Not much of a stretch, considering how badly she "misspoke" regarding a certain visit to Bosnia...)
3.6.2009 11:29pm
Sagar:
I find it tough to believe the smartest woman in the world might have been setup by someone in the State dept.

well, anyway, it is the thought that counts!
3.6.2009 11:32pm
Thoughtful (mail):
Sager: "I find it tough to believe the smartest woman in the world might have been setup by someone in the State dept."

Hiliary Clinton as the perfect mate for Adrian Veidt...
3.6.2009 11:46pm
James968 (mail):
Actually the Contractor put it on there after they were paid 1 MILLION DOLLARS.
3.6.2009 11:50pm
Cornellian (mail):
Cornellian:

They should have given him 3 buttons, "Ctrl" "Alt" and "Delete" and told him to push all 3 at once.

How do you do that in Linux?


I don't accept the premise. Linux is far too powerful to be handed over to the Russkies. We want them using Windows, and when I say "we" I include the CIA and NSA.
3.6.2009 11:53pm
Cornellian (mail):

Hiliary Clinton as the perfect mate for Adrian Veidt...


Now there's a guy who's not afraid to make the tough decisions.
3.6.2009 11:54pm
Jon Roland (mail) (www):
7598462153:

translators are typically hired to translate from a foreign language to their native language, rather than the other way around

Correct, but when members of Congress ask either the CRS or State Department to translate important messages to members of foreign parliaments those agencies should either refer the work to someone on their staffs who is a native speaker of the language or admit they can't do it and recommend an outside translator or outsource it.

It's not as though there is a shortage of native speakers available in this country. Whenever there is a civil war anywhere in the world we get most of the losers.
3.7.2009 12:02am
Cornellian (mail):
It's not as though there is a shortage of native speakers available in this country. Whenever there is a civil war anywhere in the world we get most of the losers.


Let's fix our stupid immigration system so that it favors education and talent rather than already having a relative here, then let's encourage a few civil wars in countries full of people with post-graduate degrees in math, science and engineering.
3.7.2009 12:07am
Cornellian (mail):
Linux is far too powerful to be handed over to the Russkies. We want them using Windows.

And while I'm in the neighborhood, anyone notice netbooks are getting better and better very quickly? The ASUS 1000HE is looking pretty good, and the 1008HA is looking really great. One of those with Linux and I'd be a happy camper.
3.7.2009 12:11am
A. Zarkov (mail):
"... then let's encourage a few civil wars in countries full of people with post-graduate degrees in math, science and engineering."

We don't have shortages of people with degrees in math, science and engineering-- we have surpluses. Why would we want to add to the surplus by bringing in more people and increasing the unemployment in these fields? Note even before our current Depression we had surpluses, now have even greater.

Go to any of the job boards and see how many ads you see for mathematicians. I know mathematicians, physicists and engineers and they are having trouble finding work. Of course if one is young (<35) and cheap you might have a better chance.
3.7.2009 12:25am
Brian G (mail) (www):
Somehow I doubt Condi Rice would have made the same mistake.
3.7.2009 12:26am
Kazinski:
That's two pretty embarrassing gaffs with gifts in a couple of days. From NPR:

President Barack Obama's gift of a set of DVDs to British Prime Minister Gordon Brown appalled the British media, furious about the lack of traditional protocol afforded to Brown while he was in Washington.


Brian G,

Condi wouldn't have made the mistake because she 1) is is Russion/Soviet expert and 2) has better taste than to come up with something cute like that. Condi would go for something more tasteful.
3.7.2009 1:34am
Cornellian (mail):

President Barack Obama's gift of a set of DVDs to British Prime Minister Gordon Brown appalled the British media, furious about the lack of traditional protocol afforded to Brown while he was in Washington.


I'll take them off his hands if he doesn't want them. Seriously though, "appalled?" Are the Brits really that sensitive? What happened to that stiff upper lip?
3.7.2009 2:59am
EvilDave (mail):

What do Russian GFI outlets say on them in place of "reset" on ours?

In Soviet Russia, GFI outlet resets you
3.7.2009 3:39am
econprof:
I think we should be grateful to the person who brought up the idea of giving Gordon Brown region - 1 DVD's. Suppose at some occasion he wants to use some DVD - e.g. entertain some American visitor - and the player refuses to show something because of regions mismatch.
Most likely a few more people hating the copyrighters....
Thank you.
3.7.2009 5:02am
Arkady:

Cornellian:

They should have given him 3 buttons, "Ctrl" "Alt" and "Delete" and told him to push all 3 at once.

How do you do that in Linux?



Not as easily. In a terminal:

su - (if you want root's login shell and home directory, if not, just su)
passwd
init 6

Or you could do:

Crtl-Alt F1
root
passwd
init 6

I'm appalled at my pedantry.
3.7.2009 5:24am
cboldt (mail):
-- init 6 --
.
Make an entry in inittab, then CtlAltDel works just like one expects, without need to login at all, let alone as root.
.
# What to do at the "Three Finger Salute".
ca:12345:ctrlaltdel:/sbin/shutdown -r now
.
The button that was gifted to the Russian is a machinery "Emergency Stop" button, in the universal Red over Yellow background. I bet it even "stuck" in the open (pressed in) condition, needing a separate operation to reset/restore it to it's normal condition.
3.7.2009 5:59am
Apodaca:
it's just a tiny red button

A beautiful, shiny button; a jolly, candy-like button.
3.7.2009 6:18am
sputnik (mail):
Lavrov e-mailed me.
"No big deal", he said.
they had fun over that mistranslated "accident", and as the rest of the agenda - very constructive conversation.
As far as C.Rice, he said, she was dumb neoconservative shill still set in her cold war ways.....
3.7.2009 6:45am
lonetown (mail):
An appropos gaff.

These people are confident but dim.
3.7.2009 6:52am
neurodoc:
Brian G: Somehow I doubt Condi Rice would have made the same mistake.
Funny you should say that. Eric Alterman, media columnist for The Nation, Leftie blogger, and unabashed Bush hater, made the claim a few years ago that though Rice was advertised as a fluent speaker of Russian, she did not in fact have a real command of the language. There is this extra touch of irony in that we supposedly now have those who embody competence rather than ideology in place and they stumble right out of the box with this simple matter of coming up with the right Russian word.
3.7.2009 7:05am
sputnik (mail):
neurodoc,
Russians are forgiving and amused if somebody mispronounced or mistranslate the word.
What they do not like are the idiots who are stuck in the past and think that the
force is the only shtick in diplomatic relationships, in other words they despise neoconservatives , the latest USA administration and C.Rice - the shill, who turned out to be clueless as well.
3.7.2009 7:21am
Phil Byler (mail):
The State Department has for years been filled with Democrats conspring to undercut Reublican foreign policy posturing that Bush was not competent. Now, those Democats show that it is they who are not competent.
3.7.2009 7:22am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
One can forgive cluelessness and still note for further use that the individual is clueless.
3.7.2009 7:27am
sputnik (mail):
Phil Byler in short :" i am an idiot"
3.7.2009 7:30am
Laura(southernxyl) (mail) (www):
"Just answer me one question. Why would any administration official make fun of a prior national policy?"

Do you suppose that Hillary 'nem have never heard of "divide and conquer"? I bet the Russians have.

Cheesy is the word for that gift. Also puerile. I wish we had some grownups, somewhere ... for a brief period of time I thought H might be one.

I can't let myself think about the implications of the fact that they went to all that trouble to present something to a Russian person and it had the wrong Russian word on it.
3.7.2009 7:30am
sputnik (mail):
Can anyone imagine the Bush administration attempting to defrost relations with Russia by making goodwill gestures?
Of course you can’t, because for most of the time they were either in denial that relations were declining or they blamed Moscow for everything.

That's what really upsets the wingers - the fact that Hillary is talking to Russians and others at all. Peace sucks, nobody gets rich when there is peace. In addition actually talking to adversaries threatens their masculinity. Of course most them were never manly enough to actually fight for their country.
3.7.2009 7:34am
Arkady:

-- init 6 --
.
Make an entry in inittab, then CtlAltDel works just like one expects, without need to login at all, let alone as root.

Hmmm. Didn't know that.

Here's the entry in inittab now:

# what to do when CTRL-ALT-DEL is pressed
ca::ctrlaltdel:/sbin/shutdown -r -t 4 now

I just put my user name in, reboot. Thanks. Live and learn.
3.7.2009 8:04am
Desiderius:
Sputnik,

Did you push the history eraser button in your own private history? The rest of us remember Bush gazing lovingly into Putin's eyes. Your version fits well into certain prejudices harbored by international elites to their own advantage (what yours is, one can only wonder), but has the disadvantage of mapping poorly onto the facts.

BTW, what is your good bud Lavrov telling his own people about America these days? Your faux-sophistication at the expense of your own fellow citizens is shameful.
3.7.2009 8:07am
John Burgess (mail) (www):
The translation was obviously flawed.

Having worked at State and with State's Language Services Division peripherally, I'm damn sure that this translation was not a product of the Language Services' translators.

Instead, it was likely the product of a Clinton staffer, in Russia, acting on what was perceived as a cute idea. Acting under time pressure, corners were cut and we have the result before us.

State's Language Services are professional and their translators are native speakers. The major problem with them is that they take forever to get a translation just right. That's not a bad thing when it comes to things like treaties and international agreements, of course, but it's often a matter of weeks, if not months, before they satisfy themselves that things are just right.

They are incapable--because it is not their remit--of producing fast translations.

I dealt with them during the merging of the US Information Agency with State. My office at the time was responsible for providing quick and accurate translations of major speeches into various languages, including Russian, French, and Arabic. These translations had to be done within hours of the speeches' delivery for them to have any utility. Language Division was unaware that this was being done as they had proprietary interests in providing translations. When they learned of the time element, however, they gracefully backed away.

USIA's successor, the International Information Programs now within State's R Bureau, continues to provide rapid translations, but do not generally (for a variety of legitimate reasons) provide translations as the subject example... here, likely because they weren't asked.

This example truly does carry the scent of a locally produced (i.e., in Russia) great idea. As Tatyana points out, this was an error in proof reading, not utter cluelessness.
3.7.2009 8:45am
Soronel Haetir (mail):

Do the best at anything work for our government? I thought that was why we liked privatizing government functions.


We've got the very best blowhards! And you'd have to look long and hard to find better buck pushers.
3.7.2009 9:02am
Ariel:
"Smart" diplomacy and a new era. Boy, that cowboy is starting to not loo so dumb.
3.7.2009 9:12am
enjointhis:
Thanks, Mr. Burgess, for a reasonable and almost-certainly-accurate analysis. Comports w/my own (quite limited) experience. Hope the haters out there take a moment to digest your post!
3.7.2009 9:19am
MartyA:
I believe we are seeing Rahm Emanuel in action. He manipulated Hillie into leaving her power base in the US Senate and will orchestrate her departure from the Department of State, removing her from the public eye and from ever competing against Obama. Over the next six months, we'll see a number of the events that make Hillie look really bad.
Then the question will be, see knew who she was working for, didn't she see this coming?
3.7.2009 9:20am
PeterWimsey (mail):
I believe we are seeing Rahm Emanuel in action.



I'm trying to imagine Emanuel behind this situation and failing. How is he supposed to have pulled the strings to make this happen? Suggested "reset" to Clinton? Heard about the "reset" button, suggested a translator to Clinton, and then told the translator to get the translation subtly wrong?

I'm not buying any of this; Clinton is perfectly capable of making mistakes without anyone's help.
3.7.2009 10:20am
RPT (mail):
"jccamp:

Maybe it was overload in the alternative usage, as in the vernacular: "allowing one's mouth to overload your ass."

But the State Department would never allow that to occur."

Well, that was John Bolton's usual posture.
3.7.2009 10:26am
Jaime non-Lawyer:
They wanted to say "reset" and came up with "overload". Good thing they didn't come up with "reload" instead.
3.7.2009 11:17am
Sagar:
sputnik,

Peace sucks, nobody gets rich when there is peace.

um... is that how things are in your orbit? in our world, when there is peace people in general prosper. "peace &prosperity" is not a contradiction.
3.7.2009 11:53am
GatoRat:
Just giving a foreign minister a cheesy reset button, even if it was translated correctly, is incredibly immature. What's next, giving the Chinese foreign minister one of those oversized dollar bills? This isn't the seventh grade.
3.7.2009 12:24pm
Syd Henderson (mail):
Jim at FSU (mail):
Wait a second, Obama gave a gift of region one DVDs to the UK prime minister?


I've never seen any confirmation that they are region 1. People seem to assume it.

It's not all that hard to get all-region DVDs, or, for that matter, a DVD player that will play all regions.
3.7.2009 12:32pm
MrBuddwing (mail):
Jim at FSU (mail):
Wait a second, Obama gave a gift of region one DVDs to the UK prime minister?

Syd Henderson:
I've never seen any confirmation that they are region 1. People seem to assume it.

It's not all that hard to get all-region DVDs, or, for that matter, a DVD player that will play all regions.

Me:

But what about NTSC (American TV system) vs. PAL (British)?
3.7.2009 12:49pm
General Christopher Gadsden:

They wanted to say "reset" and came up with "overload". Good thing they didn't come up with "reload" instead.


JNL - they don't have to reload. They just convince the Chinese to stop buying t-bills. Then it's game, set, match.
3.7.2009 12:57pm
Skyler (mail) (www):
I don't think it's possible that either Obama or Clinton are that stupid. Both the rebuff to Brown and the idiotic gag to Russia were intentional. Even if the translation wasn't intentional, the "gift" of a push button, and not even a nice push button, can only be taken as the insult intended.

The real question is why is the Obama administration doing this, or are there two different efforts underway, one by Obama against a our best ally and Clinton for trying to undermine Obama?

Maybe as Sec State, Clinton was involved in both and is trying to make Obama look like a fool.
3.7.2009 12:58pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
'Condi would go for something more tasteful.'

Like a cake shaped like a key?
3.7.2009 1:14pm
Alaska Jack (mail):
Sputnik said:


Russians are forgiving and amused if somebody mispronounced or mistranslate the word. What they do not like are the idiots who are stuck in the past and think that the force is the only shtick in diplomatic relationships, in other words they despise neoconservatives , the latest USA administration and C.Rice - the shill, who turned out to be clueless as well.


Wow -- what impresses me is the degree of unity the Russians seem to have. You can't get two Americans to agree on the time of day, much less complex matters of foreign policy. I guess I just never realized how united the Russians are. Look out world!

- Alaska Jack
3.7.2009 1:23pm
m:
Translation aside, it defies belief that nobody in the US chain of responsibility for getting the box into Lavrov's hands stopped and thought, "Wait, Red Button? Bad associations. Must stop this." Wikipedia (e.g.) on [Big] Red Button:

The Big Red Button means a device(s) used to launch nuclear weapons. A person in charge may be referred to as "having his/her finger on The Button."

Wondering if the failure to stop this indicates some lack of freedom in nay-saying at State.
3.7.2009 1:29pm
Psalm91 (mail):
"Brian G:

Somehow I doubt Condi Rice would have made the same mistake."

Indeed, she make her mistakes on a much larger scale. "No one could have expected....."
3.7.2009 1:32pm
Falafalafocus (mail):

Russians are forgiving and amused if somebody mispronounced or mistranslate the word. What they do not like are the idiots who are stuck in the past and think that the force is the only shtick in diplomatic relationships, in other words they despise neoconservatives , the latest USA administration and C.Rice - the shill, who turned out to be clueless as well.


So neoconservatives are despised by Russians because . . . neoconservatives are too similar?

Then again, there is absolutely no evidence that Russians have ever used force as a schtick, unlike those American Neo-Cons in South Ossetia and Abkhazia.
3.7.2009 2:34pm
MikeP (mail):
According to National Review, Brown is blind in one eye and has limited sight in the other. I'd think that makes the DVDs gift a blunder even if they gave him ones that would work in Great Britain.
3.7.2009 2:37pm
vepxistqaosani (mail) (www):
The correct word is probably 'sbros' (сброс). I found it with a little Googling, as documented here:

Clever Name to Come Later

The phrase 'push the reset button' (нажмите кнопку сброса; nazhmite knopku cbrosa) appears in on-line support docs from Apple. It may still be wrong or unidiomatic, but it's certainly not laughable.

If Hillary had spent two minutes with Google, this little episode could have been avoided -- but perhaps she has John McCain's internet skills ...
3.7.2009 3:30pm
Tatyana (mail):
vepxistqaosani:
сброс (sbros') literally translates as "dump" (or in computerized vocabulary as in stack dump). I think it's not the point here, tho.

Even with an accurate translation "reset" does not have the same cultural meaning in Russia as it does in English. Partially, because, as some of you here kindly called us Russkies, you'd be hard pressed to find real Russian computer literates using windows (Unix/Linux is more like it) , and before pushing "reset" button, it's usually preluded by exquisite profanity rants and frustration -- if you have to "reset" something that doesn't work, trust me, it won't stick around much as far as computers go.

Anyway, I think the real problem here is, that (sorry for the harsh comparison), new American Administration foreign initiatives are more like a dog in heat courting everyone and everything without much discrimination. The underlined bloopers such as collection of DVDs, or mispronunciation of names or giving a red button as a gift that made a lot of people raise their eye brows (at least the ones that remember good old days of Cold War) merely demonstrate lack of understanding of other cultures, respect and proper protocol. So, while Clinton is busy serenading in the name of peace and prosperity, for a causal observer there's more than enough incidents to question whether or not the new administration knows what they're doing.
3.7.2009 4:13pm
OldEasterner:
At least Hillary hasn't lost her cackle. Did you hear her when he told her she got it wrong?

Her use of the cackle could well be a winning tactic. I can see diplomats saying that they'd agree to anything as long as she promises not to unleash it again.

[Hillary is a fine person. I don't intend an ad hominem attack. I criticize the horrendous sound. A sound that coaches should have worked with her to improve.]
3.7.2009 6:32pm
Stephen F. (mail) (www):

What they do not like are the idiots who are stuck in the past and think that the force is the only shtick in diplomatic relationships,


What do Russians have against Jedi?
3.7.2009 7:23pm
neurodoc:
sputnik: Can anyone imagine the Bush administration attempting to defrost relations with Russia by making goodwill gestures?
You mean like Bush inviting Putin to the family ranch in Crawford and going before the cameras to say that he had been able to look into Vladimir's heart and knew it was a good one? Did Bush fail to live up to Putin's expectations or was it Putin who failed to live up to Bush's or both?
3.7.2009 7:43pm
i-gore:
Peregruzka/perezagruzka/sbros... Did you realize that the word was not even in Russian (Cyrillic) letters? It was "PEREGRUZKA" verbatim, in Latin letters.
3.7.2009 8:56pm
JKB:
But...but...Hillary was suppose to have all this foreign relations experience. Yet she can't even put together a staff who understand the real dangers from diplomatic misunderstandings, even misspellings. Wars start from them.

What is up with these amateur hour mistakes. It's only been a few weeks, surely the Obamamaniacs attention span isn't that short.
3.7.2009 10:11pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
"In Soviet Russia, GFI outlet resets you"

EvilDave wins the thread.


I wish Hillary came with a reset button.
3.7.2009 10:53pm
rebellionbrewery.com (mail) (www):
The Associated Press would like Americans to believe that our representatives have no clue what they are doing. Judging from comments on the various message forums Americans are gullibly buying the simplistic explanation that our State department supposedly doesn’t know how to translate the word “reset” into Russian. Nonsense! The Russian word peregruzka appears at the top of the button, spelled in latin letters. If this was meant to be a literal translation, why would the letters be in Latin? The english translation for this word is “overload” and anyone that knows how to type a few letters into an online translation website can easily figrue that much out. An english word appears below the button and that word is “reset”. These words do very much make sense together: when something is overloaded (like a circuit), you reset it.

Continued here:
rebellionbrewery.com/?p=312
3.7.2009 11:10pm
Tatyana (mail):
rebellionbrewery.com
that is one of the most creative "excuses" I've heard. By the way, did the button come with a manual?

Anyway, needless to say the whole reason for new administration to come up with "reset" buzzword was precisely because the relations between the two nations didn't suffer from the "overload", but rather complete opposite. As a result, one may say there's an overload of evidence that a bit of a research is always a good thing when you're trying to build up relations. So what now, reset?
3.7.2009 11:44pm
DiversityHire:
I don't know about the AP conspiracy angle, rebellion. But I love this quote from your site:


A dead ferret is all the difference between biological armageddon and just another day on planet earth.
3.8.2009 12:29am
benji:
From this picture, it looks like the "captions" were printed on a label maker like you'd use to label stuff in your closet. Which could lend support to the "was fixed up in Russia or during the trip" theory.
picture
3.8.2009 6:12am
Neo (mail):
And who in their right mind issues even "off the record" comments like ...
The official dismissed any notion of the special relationship, saying: "There's nothing special about Britain. You're just the same as the other 190 countries in the world. You shouldn't expect special treatment."
Oh my God .. the "official" should be fired. No wonder there is a flap about Limbaugh, they have to distract from stuff like this.

Is there anybody left at State who remembers proper protocol ?
... or have they all been sent to Gitmo ?
3.8.2009 9:04am
Desiderius:
Neo,

What kind of person publicizes such a comment coming from their own country, even if true? What exactly do you, or we, have to gain by pouring oil onto a new fire at this time?
3.8.2009 9:20am
BenFranklin (mail):
The Russians will only care about the button incident to the extent that it confirms what they already knew... we have an incompetent, weak and feckless person leading our country. While we are running around playing with toy buttons the Russians are cutting our supply routes to Afghanistan and helping the Mad Mullahs get their nuclear weapons. We won't even mention the fact that "overcharge" would have been perfectly appropriate from the perspective of the type of extortion the Russians engage in with their energy policies.
3.8.2009 10:40am
markm (mail):
I was thinking that it was most likely the engraver's fault, not the translators. After all, American engravers often misspell English words, and Russian would be much harder, even without the Cyrillic.

But then Benji posted a picture of the button (scroll up three or four comments). Zooming in, it's definitely not engraved. Both labels "PEREGRUZKA" and "RESET" are on label-maker tape (like in a $35.00 label maker from Walmart). I think someone got the translation over the phone and garbled it.

The button is an Emergency Stop button from any industrial electrical supplier. I've purchased and installed enough of them to know. The color and shape are standard, because when you need the E-Stop you don't have time to read labels. Note the arrows on it, you slap the button down to stop the machine, it locks down, and you twist to release it.

IOW, it's a gag gift.
3.8.2009 12:33pm
markm (mail):
But what era in Russian-American relations is this supposed to reset to? Perhaps about 110 years ago when Secretary of State Seward bought Alaska from the Czar? Could Siberia be for sale now? Unfortunately, with Hillary and Obama, I think it more likely that they'd sell Alaska back...
3.8.2009 12:38pm
Jon Roland (mail) (www):
Hillary told the European Parliament as reported by Reuters:

I have never understood multiparty democracy. It is hard enough with two parties to come to any resolution, and I say this very respectfully, because I feel the same way about our own democracy, which has been around a lot longer than European democracy.

Now it is not as though a lot of U.S. officials may not think this, and have for a long time, but it is a diplomatic faux pas to come out and say it. Amateur hour at State.
3.8.2009 9:20pm
Mark Buehner (mail):

Wow -- what impresses me is the degree of unity the Russians seem to have.

Its easy when dissenters are gunned down in the street.
3.8.2009 11:24pm
LM (mail):
BenFranklin:

The Russians will only care about the button incident to the extent that it confirms what they already knew... we have an incompetent, weak and feckless person leading our country

Right. Because Obama's fingerprints are all over that typo. Just like he's responsible for the typos in these comment threads.

That hour of sleep we lost last night? Obama took it.

Spam? Telemarketing? Kenny G?

Obama. Obama. Obama.
3.9.2009 1:41am
a guest with a name:
After looking at the picture of the yellow box with the button I think that it is Clinton who got it all wrong and started the confusion.
The box has two words, "peregruzka" and "reset", but none is intended as a translation for the other. The word on top, peregruzka, describes a condition or a state when the button should be pressed while the word below the button is a description of the action initiated by pressing the button.
Considering that current US-Russia relationship is overloaded with hostility and suspicions, an overload device with a reset button makes sense.
Well, count it as another gaffe fully manufactured and executed by Clinton.
3.9.2009 2:11am
wfjag:

Because Obama's fingerprints are all over that typo.

It came out over the weekend that this was a Joe Biden idea. So, you're right, we can't blame the Pres. for this one -- it only reaches to the Office of the V.P.
3.9.2009 10:46am

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