Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Dong-A Ilbo: "Only 2% of Americans are Jews, but they pull the strings"

Percentages of Jews: Ivy League Undergrads
(Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Columbia,
Dartmouth, Brown, Cornell, Pennsylvania)
(Image from Dong-A Ilbo)

Charles La Shure, of the blog Liminality, suggests the above heading to this morning's blog entry as a better English paraphrase for the Korean title of the article by Kong Jong Sik (공종식): "2% 유대인, 미국을 쥐락펴락" (Dong-A Ilbo (동아일보), Saturday, December 15, 2007).

Robert Koehler of the Marmot's Hole also has a discussion going on about this issue, but I'm proud to note that currently (as of 4:45 a.m., 12/18/2008), my post from yesterday has 23 comments to the Marmot's 18 . . . although roughly half of those 23 are my responses to the comments of others, so the Marmot is still ahead (plus, Robert's "hat tip" to me generated many of the comments here at Gypsy Scholar anyway).

But enough of this pissant contest. I have another translation query, namely, how would one translate the following statement from paragraph 11 of Kong Jong Sik's Dong-A Ilbo article?
유대계가 미국에서 이처럼 큰 영향력을 행사할 수 있는 이유는 유대계가 정치, 금융, 법조계, 학계, 언론 등 미국 사회 각 분야에 거미줄처럼 퍼져 광범위한 네트워크를 형성하고 있기 때문이다.
Google's translating engine renders it as this:
Jews in the United States can exercise such a big influence on the Jewish political reasons, finance, law, academia, the media and American society in each area network, forming a broad spread like a spider web, and because.
I'm guessing that this means something like the following:
Jews in the United States can exercise such a big influence on the Jewish political issues, finance, law, academia, and the media because in each area of American society, they form a network spreading out broadly like a spiderweb.
The reference to a 'spreading like a spiderweb' (거미줄처럼 퍼져) sounds especially unpleasant, for it would appear to portray Jews as spiders. Does that comparison sound as bad in Korean as in English? Can somebody with good Korean skills translate this passage? I think that we need to know the precise nuance here, for that would tell us a lot about Kong Jong Sik's views and thus whether or not his article fits the title and main photo (which I have speculated might have been chosen by the Dong-A Ilbo's editors).

Thanks in advance.



At 8:13 AM, Anonymous Sonagi said...

"거미줄처럼 퍼져"

I had never heard of this expression, so I googled it to get some examples in context. The simile is commonly used in a broad variety of contexts, describing canals in a city, churches in a neighborhood, transportation, and alleys. I am not a native speaker of Korean, but I would say, judging from the examples in context, that the expression is neutral but can take on a negative tone in certain contexts. The word "network" comes to mind, but that English loan word also appears in the text. Overall, the tone of the article is conpiratorial, but I don't think "거미줄처럼 퍼져" itself is as sinister-sounding in Korean as its direct English translation suggests.

At 8:18 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks, Sonagi. As always, much depends on connotations in the original language.

Let's see if others concur with your impression.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 1:21 PM, Anonymous hershel said...

Just a "one American" observation.

We here in the US are interminably under the stress of a campaign mode kinda s**t. some gleefully take part. Some not.

Most of this crap means nothing. At least to (most hopefully?...) us here in the US. It's a kinda Shakespeareian kinda titling thing,"Much Ado about so much BS."

We are having to put up with four year election cycles. I am very happy that your crowd Jeff, seems to take it as an exercise in translation.

Herschel D.

At 1:31 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

For the moment, Herschel D., it's remaining an exercise in translation.

The imagery may merely be more insensitive than antisemitic . . . but the large photo with the word "JEW" in big, bold letters superimposed on the flag, as thought Jews are in control, that comes awfully close to the latter...

Jeffery Hodges

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At 2:25 PM, Anonymous herschel said...

Well Jeff,

Everybody can cut it in all ways. We might say, say we in the US were all West Virginians?

We might say we are all Jack Abramoff? Or a specific Amerind native tribe?

We might say we hide Easter eggs for our children, we might say we hide presents under a tree: we may say "Monkey helped get sh*t to China."

again, herschel d. (not related)

At 2:42 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Hmmm... That phrase "as thought Jews are in control" should say "as though Jews are in control."


Herschel D., you just went over my head with your most recent comment, but I'm thickheaded, so it's likely my fault (or the fault of the one who designed me).

Jeffery Hodges

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At 4:10 PM, Anonymous hershel said...

I meant the W.VA comment to reflect it as it stands. Too terrible to attribute to one people. Too terrible as an attribute.

The Abramoff inclusion was an expedient.

Monkey? I may've been a bit ellipticle as my friend Kapok often is: I've only a translation to go with. My best effort at getting the name right? Arthur Waley's,"Journey To The West" (Xiyou ji).

I'm not a translator worth salt or spit.

Herschel D.

At 4:17 PM, Anonymous hershel said...

Sorry, I should've added, Abramoff was an easy target. Jewish heritage lobbying for American Indian interests. Casino, gamey kinda stuff.

Perhaps you've forgotten what a two-day old smashed flat armadillo smells like in the bright sunshine, Jeff? Sturkie road in the afternoon? Could be any road. Could be any armadillo.

Herschel D.

At 6:06 PM, Anonymous Charles said...

Oh, you went with my after-thought translation! Not very headline-like, I must admit (in that regard, I thought Sperwer's contribution in the previous comment thread was much better).

It's tough to say if 거미줄처럼 conveys the same negative connotations as the English translation. I think the Korean refers more to the way a spider web spreads out to cover a relatively large area, and I don't think it is a deliberate comparison to spiders.

Something to keep in mind: in English, we can simply say "web of influence," but in Korean there is no non-qualified word for "web." That is, you can't just say 줄, you have to qualify it with 거미 to convey the meaning of "web" rather than the numerous other meanings that 줄 can possess. The closest Korean equivalent to plain old "web" would probably be 망, which means "net" or "network." 영향망 (network of influence) is a phrase used in Korean, but it wouldn't have the same impact as the 거미줄 phrase.

So, just some scattered thoughts there. Make of them what you will.

At 7:33 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Definitely too elliptical for me HD.

As for that road-kill armidillo lying flat in the Sturkie Road, that's after my time. Armidillos didn't make it to the central Ozarks until after I'd left for Texas and the wider world.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 7:38 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Charles, thanks. My intuition that the expression might sound different in Korean was vaguely correct, I suppose.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 4:57 AM, Blogger Matt said...

I don't know Korean, but a spider web, and more commonly tentacles (as in this infamous picture), are common topoi in antisemitism. The image is used to suggest that Jews manifest power everywhere. Sometimes as a statement about how powerful Jews are, sometimes as an explanation for why Jews don't seem overtly powerful in any one place.

At 8:34 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks, Matt. The image that you link to is definitely antisemitic.

I still wonder about the spiderweb figure of speech -- though I'm willing to accept the views of those with greater Korean-language skill -- but the image of the American flag with the superimposed, all-caps English word "JEW" and the superimposed Korean words that translate as "Jewish Power," along with the article title about Jews pulling the strings in America, all strike me as antisemitic.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 2:23 AM, Blogger Matt said...

Jeffery, they all strike me as antisemitic as well. I can't tell you anything about what's written in Hangul, but I can talk about the tropes of historical antisemitism. The idea of the spiderweb might have come from there rather than from prior Korean usage.

At 3:51 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Matt, if the article were in English, by a native speaker of English, and used that imagery, I'd have no question that the article were drawing upon a stock of antisemitic images and sources.

Since we're dealing with a translation, I'm less sure, but I suspect that the writer may have come into contact with some antisemitic sources and borrowed from them without being fully aware of their significance. Koreans can be awfully naive about such things.

Anyway, thanks for writing. I've taken a look at your own interesting website. You seem to be doing worthwhile work. All the best on your projects.

Jeffery Hodges

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