Greta Thunberg: Lost in Translation?

Greta Thunberg has been getting a significant amount of international attention, especially as she participated in protests around the globe. A number of controversial comments were made at a recent protest, forcing the climate change activist to make a few apologies.

When speaking in Italy on Friday, Thunberg issued condemnation on the actions of world leaders because she believes that they have not addressed the issue of climate change adequately. She made comments about how world leaders run away from their responsibilities and it is her goal to make sure that they don’t do that. She, then, said we will “put them against the wall” so that they have to do their job and protect our futures.

CBS News was quick to report that the expression “put them against the wall” is a euphemism in English for executions. It is in reference to placing a convict in front of a wall prior to the firing squad.

Based on how harsh Thunberg has been toward world leaders in the past, this is likely exactly what she meant to say. She has been identified by many as being a very angry activist. She always wears a scowl. She clearly doesn’t believe in the concept of killing them with kindness.

However, her words came back to bite her. Many wanted to know if she was actually threatening physical violence against world leaders who didn’t want to comply with her demands.

Oops. It seems Greta Thunberg realized that she finally crossed a line that people were willing to hold her to. Rather than apologize for saying what she said, she decided to blame it on a literal translation to English from the Swedish that is her native language.

Thunberg has come forward to say that it was not her intent to communicate a threat against the various world leaders. She explained that it’s “Swenglish” on Twitter and that it means to hold someone accountable.

There’s a big difference between holding someone accountable and talking about a firing squad-style execution. Although, an execution would certainly be one way of holding world leaders accountable.

Thunberg said “of course I apologies” if people misunderstood that those things happen when speeches are improvised in a second language. She wants to express that she as well as the rest of the school strike movement is against any form of violence. She says that it goes without saying but she wants to say it anyway.

While the apology is appreciated, it came only after CBS News made the report along with countless others. It was a huge misstep – and for all of the people who are backing Thunberg, one would think that there would be someone helping her with her speeches, especially since English is not her native tongue. This way, it would prevent problems with translation.

Thunberg has reported on multiple occasions as of late that she is unhappy with the way that the protests have been going. World leaders are not listening to her and not taking things seriously enough for “her” future. One of the biggest problems that Thunberg faces is that world leaders don’t want to listen to a teenager. She doesn’t have a degree in environmental science. World leaders are more likely to listen to those who have degrees – and they are.

Thunberg has been traveling around the world to talk to world leaders, including making an appearance at the UN climate summit. She has refused to fly on airplanes because of the carbon footprint that it leaves behind. As a result, she has been traveling by zero-carbon yachts, crowded rails, and cars to make it to everywhere she needs to go. She’s quick to criticize everyone, even getting into a Twitter spat with Deutsche Bahn, the train rail that she used to cross Germany with further connections into Scandinavia.

With how quick the teenage activist is to criticize everyone, many wonder just how sincere her apology was. She’s not too quick to accept blame for anything that she’s done. She apologies and, at the same time, points the finger to another reason for her blunder. It would be a lot better if she simply apologized, but that clearly isn’t her style.

World leaders may be less likely to meet with Thunberg now more than ever. No one wants to be put against the wall simply because they don’t want to listen to what a teenager has to say about the need to change what’s happening as a way to improve the climate for the sake of her future.


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