The last few weeks have not been short of sad events, including the death of Queen Elizabeth II and the funeral of assassinated former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
Just in case you’re ever in a situation where you have to interpret a speech about a tragic event, I’ve put together a couple of posts for you about expressing condolences.
In today’s post, we’re going to do some terminology mining to find useful phrases.
Article 1- Queen Elizabeth II
This is an article I adapted from the Guardian. Have a read through it, and make note of useful phrases.
Condolences and condemnation: Indigenous people and people of colour react to the death of Queen Elizabeth II
The reaction to the death of the Queen among Indigenous people and people of colour, including those from Commonwealth nations, has been swift and, at times, unflinching.
For many the Queen was the personification of British colonisation and the damage it has wreaked in their countries – and they were not afraid to say so. Yet others expressed their condolences for the monarch who has long held “a special place” in their hearts.
As condolences poured in from across the globe for Elizabeth II, who died aged 96 early on Friday morning Australian time, so did anger and resentment at the unresolved trauma of colonisation that for them, the crown represented.
In Australia, Prof Sandy O’Sullivan, from Macquarie University, tweeting as this week’s host of IndigenousX, attempted to explain the reaction and put it into a historical and social context.
“For those saying we should be magnanimous about the passing of the queen, a reminder that the queen inserted herself into the lives of Indigenous people here multiple times. She wasn’t a bystander to the effects of colonisation and colonialism, she was an architect of it,” O’Sullivan wrote.
“What she did ‘do’ was be an active participant in stealing our land. Instead of handing back, making reparations from her enormous wealth, her agents (that she had explicit control of, see ‘The Dismissal’) continued to steal land and when they had it all, they stole our children.
Northern Territory Country Liberal party senator Jacinta Price said on Facebook the Queen was a “remarkable monarch who dedicated her life to serve not only the Commonwealth but the world”.
Price said she was “grateful” to be able to sign the condolence book to the royal family at the governor general’s residence.
Canada’s first Inuit governor general, Mary Simon, released a statement reminiscing about the Queen’s relationship with Inuit people.
“When I was growing up, my grandmother revered The Queen, as did so many in the Arctic. She would tell us stories about Her Majesty, about her role and her commitment,” Simon said,
“Her reign encompassed the mandates of 12 Canadian prime ministers and 13 governors general. On 22 occasions, she undertook official visits to Canada, where she professed her love for our county again and again. She was a steadfast presence during some of the most tumultuous times of our lives, and most recently gave comfort to so many during the pandemic.
“On behalf of all Canadians, I offer deepest condolences to the members of the Royal Family, who grieve the loss of a loving mother, grandmother and great-grandmother.”
In New Zealand, foreign affairs minister, Māori woman Nanaia Mahuta said Queen Elizabeth exemplified strong democratic principles and the rule of law, while Māori party co-leader Rawiri Waititi said questions on the role of the monarchy could wait while the world grieves.
“The huge vacuum left will cause debate, but in this time of grief and loss we can only support her whānau and mokopuna as they grieve and heal. She was a constant across three generations, an anchor in a rapidly changing globe,” Waititi told Radio NZ.Some suggestions
Article 2 – Shinzo Abe
Same exercise: see what useful phrases you can extract from this piece, adapted from an article in the Guardian.
State funeral for Shinzo Abe held in Tokyo amid controversy
A state funeral for Japan’s longest-serving prime minister, Shinzo Abe, has been held in Tokyo amid public anger over the cost of the ceremony and revelations over his party’s ties to a controversial religious group.
More than 4,000 guests, including the US vice-president, Kamala Harris, and the British foreign secretary, James Cleverly, stood in silence as a member of Japan’s self-defence forces entered the Nippon Budokan hall, where a 19-gun salute sounded in honour of the assassinated former leader.
Amid tight security, people opposed to the funeral demonstrated as thousands of mourners queued to lay flowers and offer prayers in a park near the venue.
After a video showcasing Abe’s achievements, set to footage of the former prime minister playing the piano, the current leader, Fumio Kishida, paid tribute to his friend and predecessor.
“Courage is doing what is right,” Kishida said in English, before adding in Japanese: “Abe-san, you were a person of courage. People around the world will look back fondly on your time in power. Abe-san, Prime Minister Abe … you did good work. Please rest in peace.”
Abe’s death sent shock waves through a country with very low rates of gun crime and prompted tributes from politicians around the world.
See if you can use some of the expressions you’ve noted down to fill in the gaps in this article about the death of Queen Elizabeth II.
World leaders ___________ after __________ of Queen Elizabeth II
Messages __________ at end of British monarch’s 70-year reign
Presidents, prime ministers, monarchs and leaders around the world have ___________ to the life and service of Queen Elizabeth II, many of them reflecting on a 70-year reign that _________ some of the most turbulent and decisive moments in modern British and world history.
As Thursday wore on and news of the Queen’s ill-health eventually gave way to news of her death, global figures spoke of what she had meant to them and their countries.
Among the most frequently __________ words were “duty”, “steadfast” and “constant”, but mention was also ________ of her sense of humour, and of her life and role as a mother and grandmother as well as a monarch.
Minutes after the Queen’s death was announced, France’s president, Emmanuel Macron, posted a simple picture of the Queen on his Twitter account, unaccompanied by any words. In a subsequent message, he wrote: “Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II __________ the British nation’s continuity and unity for over 70 years. I remember her as a friend of France, a kind-hearted queen who has left a ___________ impression on her country and her century.
Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin _________ his condolences to King Charles for the “irreparable loss” of his mother, saying the Queen had “rightfully enjoyed the love and respect of her subjects, as well as authority on the world stage”.
President Xi Jinping of China ___________ his “sincere sympathies to the British government and people” in a statement __________ through state media. “Her __________ is a great loss to the British people.”
Ireland’s president, Michael D Higgins, described the late monarch as “a remarkable friend of Ireland” as he offered his ______________ to the royal family.
“Her Majesty __________ the British people with exceptional dignity,” he said. “Her personal commitment to her role and extraordinary sense of duty were the __________ of her period as Queen, which will hold a unique place in British history.”
Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, said he was _________ to learn of Queen Elizabeth’s death and ________ his deepest condolences to the royal family and the people and government of the UK.
New Zealand’s prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, said flags would ________ and arrangements would be made for a __________ service.
Jamaica’s prime minister, Andrew Holness, expressed his “great and profound sadness”, adding: “We join our brothers and sisters in the Commonwealth in _________ her passing, and pray for the comfort of the members of her family, and the people of the United Kingdom, as they ________ the loss of their beloved Queen and matriarch.”
The Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, spoke of his “deep sadness” at the news, saying the UK and the Commonwealth had _________ an irreparable loss.
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Sophie Llewellyn Smith, writing as The Interpreting Coach, is a coach, interpreter trainer, conference interpreter, designer of online teaching materials, and creator of Speechpool. Follow the blog to pick up tips on how to improve your interpreting skills.