RMNB recently published two articles  [I and II] translating an interview Michal Neuvirth gave to František Suchan of iSportz.Cz. The original interview was conducted in Czech and translated by Kara Martinková with proofreading and edits by our team. While we stand by the articles we published, we acknowledge that translation is as much an art as it is an academic skill. Interpretations of syntax, grammar, and idiom always threaten to transform the intent of a statement, and some of Neuvirth’s meaning may have been misconstrued.

For example, we translated Neuvirth as saying the following:

I am really sure that I have the weakest competition (Braden Holtby) I’ve ever had.

But choosing competition as an apposition for Braden Holtby is subjective. Neuvirth might have intended for competition to mean competition-as-a-thing, not as a person. Given that interpretation, Neuvirth may simply have been saying this season is the best opportunity he’s ever had to earn the number-one goalie spot.

The underlying meaning of the two statements is nearly the same, but the tone is dramatically different.

The context of the article might support that interpetation too. Later in the interview, Neuvirth responds to a question about Holtby by first saying that he is a great goalie, albeit one with less experience than Varlamov and Vokoun. Using the alternate translation above and taking into account his later comment about Holtby, Neuvirth’s statements are not so incendiary.

This same interpretative gap can apply to other parts of the interview as well. Where Neuvirth describes himself as “angry” at not starting in the playoffs, the words down or unhappy might also have been used.

The vagaries of language are challenging, and there are many possibilities to lose the intent and tone of the original statement on its path from conversation to original article to translation. We hope our readers can grant a healthy amount of leniency to Neuvirth and our translators.

  • http://twitter.com/VeggieTart Danielle

    It still sounds bad no matter how you slice it. He’s also delusional if he thinks Holtby gives him a better chance at a number one spot than Varly or Vokoun.

  • canadiancapsfan

    thank you for the clarification post, i was beginning to worry the fans and media would turn on him next season. while I’m not going to support everything he said, i do believe based on the comments in the previous article that some people seemed a little too genuinely offended. it seems to me like the comments made in regards to holtby and his own chances for being a no. 1. were more a reflection of A. his confidence in his own abilities, B. his admission that coaches have previously valued nhl experience greatly, and that he expects that to turn in his favor C. genuine respect for the guys hes backed up previously. i wish neuvy all the best, and am looking forward to what he has to say in his inevitable meeting with the north american media.

  • HallforOates

    I love you guys ,don’t get me wrong – love, love, love this site. You guys have become more than just a blog, but a legitimate news source for Caps fans, other journalists, (and probably some Caps…). So – double check your work! With greatness comes responsibility! Keep raising the bar — and LET’S GO CAPS!

  • capsfaninqueens

    Translation is an art, greatly influenced by the interpretive choices made of those doing the translating, but people who have never had to translate often don’t realize this. I thought the articles were fine, and many reactions were knee-jerk, but hopefully this clears the air for those who were taken aback!

  • Alz

    This was an incredibly reckless, and not to mention wrong, translation. You’ve created a headline that is simply isn’t true and unfortunately obscures all of the other way more interesting things Neuvirth said.

  • Alz
  • http://www.facebook.com/stephan.levesque1 Stephan Levesque

    Whats delusional is thinking that Holtby is the best thing since sliced bread. He is a good goalie, don’t get me wrong but he is far from being the best. The kid is very young – lot of development still needs to occur.

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

    Hmm. I’m afraid you’ve missed the whole point of this article then.

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

    Well again, this is about interpretation, not accuracy. We do more than double check. But good attitude! Thanks!

  • http://www.churchthought.com Matt Steen

    Even with the gentler translation, the interview leaves a bad taste in my mouth… and reminded me of this little gem from 2010:

    “Last year in the playoffs, I was shooting the breeze with a couple of the Washington writers, they were talking about how detested the kid is in the Caps locker room (a few of the players later corroborated this). ”
    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/sports/hockey/globe-on-hockey/which-rookie-will-have-the-biggest-impact-this-season/article1745420/?cmpid=rss1

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Joel-Wasserman/1227570935 Joel Wasserman

    thanks for the solid journalism, RMNB!

  • Guest

    “The vagaries of language are challenging, and there are many
    possibilities to lose the intent and tone of the original statement on
    its path from conversation to

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

  • Jay Duke

    “The vagaries of language are challenging, and there are many
    possibilities to lose the intent and tone of the original statement…” So why choose the more inflammatory “translations” of his statements and start assuming to put Holtby in parenthesis after his words? For blog hits no doubt. This little “It’s not libel/it’s difficulties of translation” explanation non withstanding. Congratulations on leading the league in distorted foreign quotes pot-stirred newsmaking. I’m sure this kid felt great waking up today thinking he threw his team under the bus in the American papers.

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

    Neither the translator nor the dudes running the blog have any financial interest in getting blog hits. Notice the absence of advertisements on the site?

  • Danno

    Actually, that was the meaning I took from the mention of competition.

    So, no harm, no foul.

  • @CapFans1921

    You guys, Rachel and Ana, have always done top notch work, and these past two articles are no exceptions. The staff here does their very best to keep a fairly bi-polar fan base happy and up-to-date. And as with any article, blog or news report, the consumer will twist, take out of proportion or do whatever “we” can to try and create a controversy. Neuvy simply said what he felt, and while yes something certainly got lost in translation, I applaud a athlete who tells it like it is.

    If anything, this interview will fuel the upcoming competition as training camp approaches (Gary Bettman willing). Until then, keep up the good work, many of us appreciate it, and don’t let the opinions of a few overtake your reporting.

    Go Caps!

  • serpent

    No matter the translation difficulties, I believe we can agree that Neuvy is intelligent, articulate and honest. Add all that to his proven athletic abilitie and, I, for one, am very happy to have him on our team. I hope he continues to speak up.

  • Washcapsrock

    Thanks for this guys. I didn’t want to have to set every commenter who was ready to burn Neuvy at the stake straight! :-)

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com Ian Oland

    I just want to make one thing clear: the point of this post wasn’t a retraction of our original translation. It’s to point out there are many ways to interpret and translate passages, especially through two complex languages like Czech and English. Some syntax or tone could be wonky at times, and it could alter meanings somewhat. It could even make something seem harsher than it really is. So be aware of that. Put your pitchforks down for Neuvy.

    I did double and triple check the translation with other sources familiar with the language before we published last night, because this seemed not to completely corroborate with the public Neuvy I know and am familiar with. But my Czech-speaking friends said this was indeed an accurate translation, and they offered no changes.

    We really try to hold ourselves up to high standards here — even though we post Alf pictures on Twitter for no reason and can be silly sometimes. We take this very seriously and love you guys being apart of this with us.

    Also, check this comment out:
    http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/2012/08/20/michal-neuvirth-i-advised-vokoun-to-go-to-the-penguins-holtby-is-my-weakest-competition-yet/#comment-624769005

    I’m proud of the work Kara did and I thank you all for reading. Carry on and dear god I can’t wait for the season to start.

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

    Hey, thanks a bunch! That means a lot.

  • Livia

    The RMNB crew is, as ever, thoughtful and conscientious. You clearly went to a lot of trouble to deliver an accurate translation of Michal Neuvirth’s interview to your readers, and to clarify sections that could be interpreted multiple ways. Thanks for all of that work on our behalf.
    After reading the original post, I was mainly worried about how Neuvirth’s comments might disrupt the team’s chemistry. The Goalie Guild post by Justin Goldman (thanks for the link, by the way) helped allay those worries by providing a glimpse of the competition that takes place between goalies all the time. Teams are able to play as teams in spite of constant competition among players. The Caps will be alright.

  • Dave at District Sports Page

    No good deed goes unpunished. Solid work guys.

  • Shell

    I gotta say as a fellow goalie I think Neuvy was probably just saying what he though, being honest, and I don’t think the real jist of what he was saying is up for debate – everyone wants to be number one, and no goalies really get along. It’s like having two cats in one house. They may not fight all the time, but no matter how affectionate they are at moments, the underlying tension never goes away. Rock on Neuvy; I’ve never been a fan of Holtby. Too many AHL mistakes.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Joel-Wasserman/1227570935 Joel Wasserman

    I’m being serious. going back and correcting misunderstandings like this in a very public manner is essential to journalistic integrity, and I’m glad this corner of the blogosphere has it!

  • JC

    I don’t know if the translation is as bad as Peter Hassett’s editorializing based on the not necessarily accurate, but interpretative translating. The headline (where it looks like Neuvirth is calling Holtby his weakest competition ever) has been repeated on Yahoo! Sports and other places, and there are a lot of people who only skim headlines. And then Hassett uses exclamatory phrases like “hoo-boy” and words like “tawdry” to really spin everything in an inflammatory way.

    And I’m sorry, you can’t slap up a post like this saying, “oh, by the way, translations are interpretative and not necessarily accurate,” and make everything all right after you irresponsibly put up two posts with sensationalist comments. Most people who saw the inflammatory posts and headlines will never see this post about translations and its nuances.