Conversation between me and myself at 6 a.m. on a Christian holiday in Austria:
Me: (yawning) What the hell are you doing? Why are we up?
Myself: (buried in thought) I‘m writing a message to some angry hip-hoppers in Prishtina.
Me: (bad-tempered) What the fuck is this supposed to mean? Who are they?
Myself: (sighs) Well, I have no idea.
How come me and myself were having this sleepy talk in the morning?
The news portal indeksonline published an Albanian translation of my Die Presse article about Kosovo. The piece was published in Austria some hours before. You see Indeks was extremely fast with their unauthorized translation. When a friend from Prishtina sent me the links to two other portals that published the article, I couldn‘t help feeling a little bit tense. I couldn‘t check on the translations myself because I don‘t know Albanian yet. All I saw were a bunch of user comments on the page. Although I didn’t understand the language, they didn‘t seem very friendly to me. But that‘s the way it is with user comments all around the world, isn‘t it? They left me with a bad feeling, though.
My article contained some controversial quotes of Kosovo Minister of Culture Memli Kransiqi and some contrary statements of the rock band The Freelancers. First my article seemed to provoke a discussion between supporters of the Vetevendosje and the Democratic Party of Kosovo people. They blamed each other for a variety of things as political opponents usually do.
Some hours later, I learned that this wasn‘t the only problem. The translation of the article was misleading and somewhat incorrect, giving the reader the wrong impression. Some hip-hop artists from Kosovo felt offended because they thought my article says they are stealing lyrics from Serb turbo folk stars, which is not true. Besides. there was a misunderstanding about the word game “fake-hop“ made by a Freelancers member. Obviously the hip-hoppers (not only the fake-hoppers) felt insulted and a hip-hop portal published some of their statements. And one of the Freelancers got threatening calls for things he never said.
That was enough to get me out of bed. Things were getting serious. And I couldn‘t sleep with the thought that one of the guys was threatened. Sure, it was an overreaction and very emotionally charged, but I admit I was worried. So I sat down on my desk early in the morning and started to write a statement to the readers of the wrong translation. “Dear offended hip-hoppers,” I started. But I immediately realized that this wasn‘t the right way to calm somebody down, so I just skipped the salutation and wrote some lines saying that none of the Freelancers ever claimed hip-hoppers were stealing lyrics from turbo folk singers, and that the quotation marks were set wrong and the translation mixed up what I said and what they said.
When I sent it to the Freelancers to spread it, I thought about all the people who never start a holiday by writing explanations to hip-hoppers they‘ve never met and probably never will meet. People who sleep the clock around on holidays and never have to worry about the words they say or write. I imagined to be one of them for a second, but immediately shook off the thought. Not for love nor money I would like to have a different job. Not for anything in the world I would miss all of this. But I could definitely live without overblown reactions and my friends getting threats.
The article was originally written in English.
Artwork: Turns of Speech and Figures of Phrase
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