Thursday, July 19, 2012

From Wikileaks Syria Files: Assad gets Feedback and advice on TV Interview

Wikileaks is in the process of releasing more than two million emails from the Syrian government.  The nature of the emails varies, as one might expect, and span the period between August 2006 and March 2012. 


One extraordinary document is an email to Assad regarding his performance during a recent television interview.  The writer is the epitome of a member of the court, careful to give advice while more careful to not seem too knowledgeable as one hears at the very beginning of the email:

Hello, Allow me please to raise the following comments on the language and content of the interview, hoping you find them useful. I apologize for going too far in questioning the details of grammatical structures, which run, by and large, smoothly and coherently enough. However, for the purposes of accuracy and refinement, which you always seek to achieve, I sought to present a microscopic commentary rather than a selective one; which might have lead to magnifying trivial points at the expense of the rich content and forceful arguments of yours. My remarks include: 1. Comments on the structures of certain statements to make them more coherent and lucid and avoid unnecessary repetitions. These are marginal comments which you can very well ignore, as they involve no shortcomings in grammar or language use, but are added for the sake of refinement and stylistic embellishment, should you be tempted to know.

Or as he says later:

I hesitated before I decided to enlist those minor remarks because knowing they are mistakes, which you certainly know, is not enough to avoid making them. Only making them as often as you can and listening to yourself and having another listen to you regularly can be of help. Sorry for this unmannerly remark, but I felt I had to say this because I noticed a clear difference between the September interview (with Mr. Rose) and this one. I remember that with the former interview I was literally struggling to find a single thing to comment on or mark as a ‘grammatical mistake’, and I had to listen to the interview over and over again, and every time I did, I was so struck by your eloquence and so disappointed with your perfection which scared me into thinking I most certainly have lost my job and soon have to start hunting for a new one.

 But for the most part, he gives good advice, no doubt with a frequent glance to the noose in the corner. ---
"I wouldn’t blame everything on abroad* On abroad* is a prepositional phrase but it is an incorrect use because a prepositional phrase is made up of a preposition + a noun. The word ‘abroad’ does not function as a noun; as it is used only as: - An adjective meaning ‘in a foreign country’; "markets abroad"; "universities abroad”, etc. - An adverb meaning ‘to or in a foreign country’; "they had never travelled abroad" or “to work abroad, to study abroad, etc.” Alternative: I wouldn’t blame everything on countries abroad (foreign countries) Alternative: I wouldn’t blame everything on factors abroad (i.e. external factors) Alternative: I wouldn’t blame everything on others (or other countries)"

The writer ends with the quote:  "'Amicus Plato, sed magis amica veritas' نحن نحبّ أفلاطون، لكننا نفضّل' الحقيقة عليه" أرسطو!'"