Lost in Translation

This was written in 1996 by John Barnstead and posted in alt.callahans.

Many among the Patronage-at-Large will recall the embarrassment of President Carter during his visit to Poland when it was discovered that he had an incompetent interpreter. But perhaps few still remember an earlier incident along these lines, which was blamed for the unreasonable concessions made to Stalin by Roosevelt during the summit at Yalta near the end of the Second World War.

Roosevelt had made some little joke or other while stroking his little pet dog, which was resting on his lap. The translator, visibly perspiring, stumbled through it as best he could. When he had finished hemming and hawing, Stalin turned to Roosevelt and said in thickly-accented English: “You’re full of beans! Go home and sleep it off!” Terrified that Stalin might be mortally offended, Roosevelt went on to deliver Eastern Europe into Uncle Joe’s paws…

The truth came out only years later, in fact long after the translator confessed that his sole knowledge of Russian had been derived from a set of 78rpm Living Lithuanian Language Records… It was in fact revealed in Stalin’s secret diaries of Yalta, which only recently came to light…

“After dining on some exceptionally greasy cassoulet, I saw Roosevelt mouthing something, and then heard the sound of an immense flatulence… Only later did I realize that the wretched translator was trying to say something: at the time I was sure the sounds had issued from Roosevelt’s dog.

It is therefore not surprising that I assumed his disk Russian was the butter fart of Fallah…”

Previous Post
Next Post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *