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That which hath gone before | That which followeth

Listening to the news...

...and once again I marvel - not in a good way - at the BBC's way with language.

Since the beginning of the week, they have been talking about the horrible case in Austria where Josef Fritzl imprisoned his daughere for over 20 years, and fathered seven children on her.

What the BBC have said, every... single... time... is:

"fathered seven children with her"

Quite aside from the inaccuracy of saying the poor woman could 'father' anything, don't they know - is nobody at the BBC aware - that saying "with" implies collusion?


Just, please, employ somebody who understands the language to read the copy before you just parrot what Reuters send you. For a whole week. You are slandering this poor woman more with every single reiteration.



( 30 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 18th, 2009 06:31 pm (UTC)
Would "by her" also be correct and less icky and awful?
Mar. 18th, 2009 06:53 pm (UTC)
By her would probably be correct and neutral. Personally, I would use "on her", for the implication of coercion.
(no subject) - pennswoods - Mar. 18th, 2009 07:47 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - dickgloucester - Mar. 18th, 2009 08:35 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jahura - Mar. 19th, 2009 01:28 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - dickgloucester - Mar. 22nd, 2009 07:32 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - mundungus42 - Mar. 18th, 2009 08:56 pm (UTC) - Expand
Mar. 18th, 2009 06:40 pm (UTC)
Maybe it's a translation mistake and all others after that were/are just too stupid to think about it because in German we say "with her".
Mar. 18th, 2009 06:52 pm (UTC)
It's quite possible that it's a translation mistake - prepositions are notoriously difficult to get right. However, that is no excuse for such offensive carelessness on the part of the BBC.
Mar. 18th, 2009 06:54 pm (UTC)
I was also fuming when I heard "sa fille, avec qui il a eu 7 enfants" on France Inter. Especially since it's quite adequate to say "à qui il a fait 7 enfants".
Mar. 18th, 2009 07:05 pm (UTC)
Well, at least it's not just the BBC. I've just sent them a grumpy email about it.

It's horrific. And it's also symptomatic of a sexism that, morre and more, I am seeing embedded in our culture. We have made very little progress int he last 50 years.
(Deleted comment)
Mar. 18th, 2009 07:04 pm (UTC)
Mar. 18th, 2009 08:33 pm (UTC)
"fathered seven children with her"


Ugh. Agreed. I really hope they do stop it.
Mar. 22nd, 2009 07:33 pm (UTC)
They didn't. Nor have they responded to my email.
Mar. 18th, 2009 10:35 pm (UTC)
I'm with you - "on her" conveys what happened better.

I was actually quite surprised and happy to see the New York Times openly talk about it as rape today:


Why prettify the language at all? It was rape.
Mar. 22nd, 2009 07:34 pm (UTC)
Rape upon rape upon rape upon rape. It's hard to imagine how the poor woman will ever be able to function normally after such violation.
Mar. 18th, 2009 10:49 pm (UTC)
I agree completely.
Yesterday night I heard about 3 different people arrested, in different regions and under different circumstances, having abused little girls (and in one case little boys, all of them relatives or neighbours) for years. THREE.
My rational self knows that if the telly says so, I should be wary and try to decode, as in: they don't want me to think of the shitty World Economy. My emotional self wants to strangle the culprits, because if this can happen in just ONE single bloody day, then what is really happening all around us all the other days, when they are not taking notice and deigning to inform us?

Fuming Lela? Yes I am. And ashamed. Because I know that I have failed my teenager goals. I used to strive for a better world. A world with equal right for women and other minorities.

Now the telly conveys news with words that make you cringe. Or, in my case, it calls invariably "the two women" a woman and her 13 years old little daughter who have been raped, mutilated and finally killed, just because the victims were respectively the wife and daughter of a thief, whereas family killers are "young men" up to the age of 40, provided that they are good looking and possibly of good upbringing.

I mourne the death of our culture. Or any kind of culture, because what culture would allow this havoc of all ethics?
Mar. 22nd, 2009 07:37 pm (UTC)
Perhaps what we need to do is write and complain every time language is used to uphold such abuses. Without descending into the silliness of ultra-PCspeak, we can address nuance and its hidden influence.

Feminism has lost its edge of late, I think. There's a complacency.

Perhaps that should be our goal. When there is something like this that makes us sit up and take notice, we should talk about it and spread the word. Perhaps that's our goal.
Mar. 19th, 2009 12:07 am (UTC)

*scrubs brain with bleach and wire brush*
Mar. 22nd, 2009 07:39 pm (UTC)
You diidn't hear about this? He imprisoned his daughter in a cellar for 24 years, raped her thousands of times, forced her to bear children, and killed one of the babies by neglect.

And that is what is called a "human".
(no subject) - death_ofme - Mar. 22nd, 2009 08:06 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - dickgloucester - Mar. 22nd, 2009 08:08 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - death_ofme - Mar. 24th, 2009 12:10 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - dickgloucester - Mar. 24th, 2009 09:44 am (UTC) - Expand
Mar. 19th, 2009 12:51 am (UTC)
This sounds like sloppy, mindless translation from German to me - which the BBC really should be ashamed for.

All the reports here are saying something along the line of "mit seiner Tochter hat er 7 Kinder gezeugt". Which you can't really translate into English properly, as "create" for "zeugen" would not work here - I'm guessing some genius decided "to father" was the next-best thing.

I don't like the German construct either, for what it's worth. It implies that she somehow participated in the ordeal, and that this is something they chose to do together.

I can't really think of a better way to say it in German, though. Plenty of ways I could say that rape lead to pregnancy, but those don't work too well for 7 pregnancies over the course of 24 years.

I think we should all be glad that we've never had to figure out correct grammar for this kind of stuff before, in any language.

Also, I'm not sure if I should be happy or sad that my bright plan of fleeing Austria to get away from this would apparently have been futile.
Mar. 22nd, 2009 07:40 pm (UTC)
Sadly, it makes one wonder what other things our language might be sheltering from recognition.
Jun. 18th, 2009 09:55 am (UTC)
i have read an article in our local newspaper. they called a coldblooded murder "an execution"
Aug. 2nd, 2009 08:19 pm (UTC)
This is Niki, I met you at the Ball at Azkatraz. I just wanted to tell you that it was a pleasure, and I hope to see you again at Infinitus next year.
Aug. 2nd, 2009 08:33 pm (UTC)
Oh, HI!!!

Yes, I remember you and your splendid corset!

Friending back. And yes, I hope to be at Infinitus.
(no subject) - appleraven - Aug. 2nd, 2009 08:38 pm (UTC) - Expand
( 30 comments — Leave a comment )