This week’s New Yorker reprints the following correction from the International Herald Tribune:

Because of a translation error, an article in some editions Thursday misquoted Monica Frassoni, a member of the European Parliament, as comparing Silvio Berlusconi, the Italian prime minister, to Attila the Hun. Frassoni, who represents a Belgian constituency but who spoke in Italian, said Berlusconi had arrived “alla guida dell’unione.” This was translated as “at the tiller of the union” which was misheard as “Attila.”


  1. jean-pierre says

    Funny. Didn’t Berlusconi compare some German delegate to the EU to Hitler?

  2. That’s a relief. If I were a Hun, I’d have been pretty pissed.

  3. We have Attila here for a response:
    “Let me just say that I was truly offended to think that Ms. Frassoni would defame me in that manner. To compare me with that sleazeball Berlusconi would have been outright slander. The man buys up all the media he can find and blatantly covers up his own corruption and that of his buddies. Now, I’m not claiming I’m perfect. The looting and pillaging is in the past now, but I don’t hide from it. But I always kept my tent open and was willing to listen to anybody, and if my people felt I was going beyond the limit, taking more than my share, well, they could behead me any time. Buying legislators, suborning judges, that’s just not right. I’m glad the whole thing turned out to be a mistranslation, and I suggest we put the whole thing behind us.”

  4. The Attila version has style…

  5. Bush to Rove: “I’m not deaf, you are, Cheney is.”

  6. My damn tilla won’t let me turn left. Which means sometimes I have to go the long way around.

  7. Actually, the ex-prime minister of Hungary, Viktor Orban of the FIDESZ party used to voice his admiration of Berlusconi quite often. Given that FIDESZ were originally student liberals who turned into Evil Corrupt Yuppie Right Wing Nationalist Swine, I doubt that Attila would have gotten along well with them. Attila was a progressive leader with a well defined social program and a strong background in loot-and-pillage economics. No room for corruption. And if he had not invaded Italy and sacked Udine then there would have been no reason for the Udinese to flee to the marshes along the coast and found Venice.

  8. Attila: Father of Venice!
    Say, maybe that’s where the Venetians got the inspiration for all the looting and pillaging they did…

  9. Without the Huns there would be no squid-ink pasta.

  10. I thought the Venetians got others to do their looting and pillaging for them, as in the Fourth Crusade to Constantinople?
    13th Century outsourcing? There’s probably some awful airport bookshop style management manual in there somewhere …

  11. Priscus’ reports on Attila are online (Bury translation. There’s a new Blockley translation). Google “Priscus + Attila”. He wasn’t that bad a guy when he wasn’t pillaging, and isn’t that pretty much true of most of us?

  12. language hat,
    Not only did you make me laugh aloud in public, but I was forced to embarass myself further with my mangling of the Italian language, as I told my co-workers “You gotta listen to this!”

  13. ” Didn’t Berlusconi compare some German delegate to the EU to Hitler? ”
    Yes to a KAPO …
    Very funny

Speak Your Mind