Friday, August 6, 2010

Hiroshima and more.

Today is the the 65th anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan.

The Japanese have a word "Mokusatsu." It is comprised of two characters. Moku, meaning "with silence" and Satsu, meaning, "To Kill". Mokusatsu has two meanings depending on how it is used. It can mean to "refrain from comment" or it can mean "to ignore".

Toward the end of the war, the allies issued the Potsdam ultimatum to Japan which said, "surrender or be crushed."

Japan apparently was ready to capitulate, but wanted more time to discuss it internally.

The Japanese issued a policy of "mokusatsu," in response to the Potsdam ultimatum with the refrain from comment meaning. That meaning, however, was mistranslated somewhere in the sending or receiving of it and it read to the allies, "the Japanese government ignores the Potsdam ultimatum." To recall the inaccurate translation would been an unthinkable loss of face for the Japanese.

A few days later the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. One word misinterpreted.

If we extrapolate that concept down to individual levels, how many arguments, tragedies, feuds, difficulties and disagreements were begun because there was a misunderstanding of word meanings?

You count them for you. I know mine.

No comments:

Free Blog CounterEnglish German Translation