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Headley’s courtroom trial faces translation dilemma

Lawyers defending Tahawwur Rana, David Headley’s co-conspirator are facing translation dilemmas at a Chicago court where a trial is under progress. Accused of masterminding the 26/11 Mumbai and other terrorist attacks, the trial has resulted in translation of hundreds of documents and transcripts from Urdu into English. The evidence presented in court includes transcripts of phone conversations, diaries, witness testimonies and the like.

The American attorneys are grappling with the right pronunciation and meaning of several Urdu words and phrases like Nikaah, Pir Sahib, ‘Oye Hoy, Shahji’ etc that carry cultural connotation of South Asia in general and Pakistan in particular. Literal translation of many of these words and phrases may completely miss their contextual meanings. The religious and cultural beliefs of the accused hailing from Pakistan are totally alien to the attorneys and judges in the US court where the trial is being held. Thus it would be an uphill task to understand the documents in the correct context and arrive at the right conclusions.

For more information please visit http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2011-05-29/us/29596749_1_tahawwur-rana-translation-david-headley/2

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