Looking back at yesterday's post, I notice I had forwarded a decent example of what is for me still a rather startling phenomenon--the alteration of quotations by the major dailies.
In the text I cited The Mainichi Shimbun's version of the Prime Minister's quote on use of the word "faction":
"Honestly, it is disheartening that even now they are being called 'factions'. I would prefer to call them 'policy research groups'"
but I linked to The Asahi Shimbun's version of the quote:
「いまだに『派閥』と言われるのは心外。『政策研究グループ』と呼んでもらいたい」One can argue whether or not the translations capture the nuances of the different wordings. One could even argue that there are no significant differences in nuance.
"Honestly, it is disheartening that even now they are being called 'factions'. I would prefer to hear them called 'policy research groups'"
Undeniable, however, is that there are two different versions of the same quote--from testimony made in a Diet session. Any Hiroshi or Akiko with time on his or her hands can go to the Diet website and hear what was actually said.
So why are the Asahi's and the Mainichi's (and the Nikkei's, for that matter) versions of the quote different? Are they not supposed to all be "papers of record"?
As for quotations from speeches for which there is no accompanying raw video, the revision and multiplication disease runs amok. In order to get some idea of the speech former prime minister Koizumi Jun'ichirō gave to the Machimura faction last Thursday, only a bit of which was carried on NHK Thursday night, I photocopied the reports on the meeting from the five major dailies the next day. I then compared the quotations from each. All over the map, they were. In the end I could not bring myself to directly quote from or link to any one daily. Instead I offered in translation a best-effort, synthetic, median quotation...
...all of is a roundabout way of saying that anyone relying upon a fine-grained interpretation of the linguistic nuances of a particular word used in a quote found in a newspaper is setting herself up for a fall. The data set is flawed--the politician or whomever it is may have never said the key word at all.