Thursday, 30 November 2017

Just the Facts

Observe the following sentence & subsequent translation: Der Rollstuhlfahrer soll beim Überqueren der Straße nicht den Fußgängerüberweg genutzt haben, eine Ampel befand sich nur 25 Meter weiter. It means: The wheelchair user is believed not to have used the pedestrian crossing. A traffic light was only 25 meters away.

nur {adv}: only; just | If he'd only wheeled his lazy ass to the next corner. He's just looking for sympathy.

The descriptive measurement becomes a value judgment by way of the insertion of no more than an additional word, a simple syllable, a mere morpheme, which is then nothing less than a transgression of journalistic responsibility that triggers a number of possible conclusions about what actually happened. However, the application of "nur" in this context is not only bad reporting pregnant with the plausibly prejudicial ableist attitude beclouded in traffic law & order. It's also inaccurate, which mere minutes of research might have made clear. As you can glean from the item's accompanying photograph, there is in fact a light at the reported intersection. Either the Unfortunate wasn't crossing at this corner and the driver dragged him the distance, or the nearest light was *twice as far away.

Foto: Morris Pudwell
*click to enlarge

I'd allow my misconstrual of the precise arrangement of events. But only just.