Interlocutors Eat Cheese

Yesterday after going half-blind reading (and translating) all those Wikileaks cables, I realized there was heavy use of the word “interlocutor”. I for one was more familiar with its grammatical meaning but in the terms of these cables, it means something else:

An interlocutor is someone who informally explains the views of a government and also can relay messages back to a government. Because an interlocutor does not express an official view, communications between interlocutors are often useful at conveying information and ideas.

More precisely, the term comes from the Latin for between (inter) and speaker (locutor). A less formal way to describe such a person in modern English would be a “go-between”.

The only problem with these cables is that these people who are “go-betweens” the American Embassy and the Romanian government aren’t minor functionaries. They are literally the major political players in Romania. Let’s go through the list of just the PD-PNL:

Calin Popescu-Tariceanu: Tariceanu met regularly with PolChief and other Embassy Officers before and throughout the campaign. He speaks excellent English.

Teodor Stolojan: The Embassy maintains a close relationship with Stolojan and he met regularly with the Ambassador prior to his decision to pull out of the presidential race. We expect those good relations will continue.

Valeriu Stoica: The Embassy knows Stoica well, and PolChief and others have met with him regularly.

Mona Musca: Musca, a valued Embassy interlocutor.

Cristian David: David is a close and reliable contact for the Embassy.

Cristian Boureanu: Boureanu is a regular Embassy interlocutor.

Emil Boc: Boc is a longstanding Embassy contact, appreciated for his candor and accessibility. He speaks excellent English.

Sorin Frunzaverde: Frunzaverde holds pro-American views and is an Embassy interlocutor.

Cosmin Gusa: Gusa speaks fluent English. He meets regularly with PolChief and other Embassy interlocutors, as well diplomats from other countries.

And from yesterday we know that Mircea Geoana and Viorel Hrebenciuc and Georgian Pop are all regularly running to the American Embassy to spill their secrets.

Basescu regularly reports in as well, begging for the U.S. to send in more FBI agents amongst other things.

And while not a politician, Dinu Patriciu regularly reports in to the American Embassy as well.

The word “interlocutor” here seems to be a fancy way to say snitch or tattletale or rat. And we all know a rat’s favorite food is cheese.

Is there anyone, besides Corneliu Vadim Tudor and his PRM gang, who isn’t running to the American Embassy on a regular basis to curry favor? And I’m sure Purple Glasses would be going as well if he thought anyone would listen to him.

After reading all these cables, I’m coming to the conclusion that this country is being run basically like high school – a lot of cliques, a lot of ever-shifting alliances, a lot of snitching, tattling, gossiping and rumor-mongering. And everyone is trying to kiss up to the “cool kid”, which in this case would be the American Embassy.

Gee, maybe if I wear this leather jacket, the Cool Kid will notice me! Gee, maybe if I give the Cool Kid a piece of timely gossip, he’ll notice me! Gee, maybe if I snitch on members of my own party, the Cool Kid will reward me somehow! Gee, Cool Kid, can you send in more of your FBI buddies? That’d be AWESOME.

Pitiful and disgusting at the same time.

In America, high school is hell. The movie The Breakfast Club (1985) used sharply-delineated characters to illustrate the social divisions that exist in many/most schools: the jock, the prom princess, the stoner, the brain, the geek. It’s a caste system, where positions are won by looks, money, or athletic ability, and the hierarchy is maintained by ostracism, teasing, and violence.

Minus the “violence” part, this is an apt description of what’s going on with the political elite in Romania and the American Embassy. While Basescu certainly doesn’t appear to be a “stoner”, he’s definitely considered to be an alcoholic. And I guess Elena Udrea would be the “prom princess” in this scenario, LOL.

I almost feel sorry for those few politicians in Romania who don’t speak English well enough to get some good “interlocution” done with the ambassador. I’ve been to the American Embassy (as well as its former satellite office here in Cluj) many times and I can tell you exactly what’s down there: about two dozen Americans who speak English and no Romanian and several hundred Romanians who do all the work and all speak wonderful English.

The Americans, evidently, sit back in their office and compile idiotic reports on oligarchs (using free intern labor) and then graciously usher in these toadying Romanian politicians and let them run off at the mouth. Then the material the snitches… err the “interlocutors” provide is summarized in a misspelled telegram and sent off to Washington. Then it’s time for another round of golf!

Nice work if you can get it, I suppose.

And yet we all know exactly what’s going to happen as a result of these leaked cables – absolutely nothing. Just about every politician in Romania already has been involved in a business scam, a criminal enterprise or something else illegal, immoral or unethical. These cables are just “icing” on the “cake” of ineptitude and wrongdoing that is the government of Romania.

I swear that one of these days I’m going to learn some German, drive down to Sibiu, pick up Klaus Johannis, head down to Snagov, dig up Vlad Tepes’ sword and then begin a major house-cleaning in this country. Every last one of these cowardly, evil, corrupt, old guard thugs and their cronies need to be wiped off the political map. I’ll buy a bloc near the American Embassy for them to live in and then they can go over for coffee and chocolate-chip cookies and “interlocute” anytime they like and leave Romania the hell alone.

I, for one, am sick of this. And I just wonder when we’re going to do something about it.

19 thoughts on “Interlocutors Eat Cheese

  1. Hehe you found one of the main characteristics of a hierarchical society. Those with any type of power treat the subordinates like s..t and those without power suck up to whoever their superior is. The superior is real or imagined – you will find too many Romanians that will blame somebody else for their problems – because that somebody else is (most of the times wrongly) perceived as the master. In this case, the perceived masters are the US and Russia (for some). This kind of behavior happens everywhere, but degrees are wildly different. Romania is indeed hierarchical, but check Korea for a real shocker!


  2. It’s first time when I see “interlocutor” in Romanian with this specific meaning. I guess the Romanian translator did not know the meaning in English and he/she confused the terms, or the new meaning has just been coined to fit the situation.
    “Interlocutor” in Romanian means “speaker”, a person who participates in a talk, a conversation. The noun “interlocutor” comes from the Latin verb “interloquuntur” (3rd person, plural, present, Indicative mood); the infinitive of the verb is “interloqui” and is a calque linguistic ( from Old Greek.
    The Latin word simply means “to discuss, to have a conversation,” based on the idea that any conversation is “between” people who speak.
    A similar evolution had the English word “discrete”, which means “consisting of unconnected distinct parts.” From this meaning comes the expression “discrete mathematics.” This is how we got “matematici discrete” in Romanian (French did the same: “mathématiques discrètes”). But the Romanian “discret / discretă” (cf. Fr. “discret / discrète”) means “discreet.”
    Now, “discrete” and “discreet” have the same root (Lat. “discretus”) and even native speakers confuse them, so there is no problem, unless Romanians translate “discrete skills” by “abilităţi discrete” instead of “abilităţi disctincte.”
    And I can give you a long list with similar confusions. :)

    p.s. Personally, I would have translated the English “interlocutor” in a different way, but it’s easier to use the same word, which already exists in Romanian, and clutter it with unrelated, “discrete” meanings.
    By the way, I liked the word “interlocutor” in Romanian. It used to be such a polite and respectful way to name people involved in a conversation. After “cablograme”, “interlocutor” became synonymous with “turnător” (squealer). What a shame…


    1. Just to give you an example, “discrete mathematics” could have had a better translation in Romanian and French, “matematici finite” / “mathématiques finies”, but who cares about pertinent translations?!


      1. It just occurred to me that the Latin preposition “inter-,” from “interlocutor,” means rather “among” than “between,” so a more accurate translation would be “the one who speaks among” (speakers who speak among themselves).

        English has its own way to assimilate Latin words. It’s easier for me to understand and use genuine English words than borrowings from Latin or any other Romance language, because of the discrepancies between English and the other languages. Take, for instance, the English word “ironic”: although similar to the Romanian word “ironic,” it does not have exactly the same meaning.
        I imagine the same thing happens to an English speaker who learns a Romance language.


  3. Mon chér, remember that politicians are not martians sent here to suck the blood out of the wonderful hard working people of this land. Instead they’re the product of the people and are tolerated by them. Heck, most douchebags are even admired. I see now why christianity (and religions in general) caught on so well. You can be the biggest asshole that ever lived but don’t worry, here’s a guy that will come, walk around with a bunch of groupies, tell some stories and die. And when he dies he will take all your sins with him so you can be squeaky clean when you meet his dad. In the unfortunate event that you’re not around in his lifetime don’t worry, he left behind some “interlocutors” that can forgive you anything if you promise to recite some poems & shit (and also not ask why the altar boy is walking funny).
    Now i don’t know if this kind of thinking is a result of human brain construction or is a result of social preconditioning but the results are clear. A lot of people (astoundingly even some hard core self proclaimed atheists) are always expecting for the leader-messiah that would change everything by himself and the people would have to bum around like they usually do. The best example for this is the “chocolate jesus” Obama who everyone expected him to whip his presidential footlong out and end wars, find the cure for cancer and reunite Abba. Hell, he even got a Nobel peace prize just for being elected. But surprise surprise he is just a man.
    So yeah, you can take Johannis and genetically engineer him with the best traits of all the great leaders of humanity. You’d have one man (and his trusty romanian-american sidekick) against many millions, good luck with that.
    I’m not naive to say that leaders are not important. There are many cases when good leaders have risen through out history and changed the ways of their people for the better but it is my view that always the people were ready to change themselves and nobody had to beat them into submission.
    Looking around me i see only ignorant spoiled brats that expect everything to be delivered on a silver platter just because they were born. Of course that doesn’t happen so they stomp and cry and hold their breath but god forbid to even think about changing themselves. If politics is highschool then the people are still in kindergarten.


    1. you could have left the religion part out, what happened with the Catholic church in the west is not necessarily applicable to the east…


      1. Feel free to replace the altar boy joke with whatever abominable act your favourite religion has done recently, I’m sure you’ll find one. And remember, denial is not just a river in Egypt.


    2. nea_caisa, “mon chér” does not exist in French; maybe you wanted to say “mon cher” (with feminine “ma chère”), or “mon chéri / ma chérie”;
      or maybe you were writing in a different language, in which case I apologize for intervention :)


    3. Genetically engineered Klaus Johannis? Trusty romanian-american sidekick?

      Is… is this what I think it is? I mean really it’s gotta be right?


      Captain Romania! Together with his trusty sidekick Sam R! They fight crime!


  4. You and Klaus Johannis, as rulers of Romania? What would be different? An American and a German telling us what to do and doing things for us, no good romanians. Isn’t that the US embassy’s job? :)

    The alcoholic bit is something that the “famous” Romanian journalist Bogdan Chireac was saying to the embassy guys. He was doing his job, like he’s doing it on TV all day long, eating shit in large quantities (mananca rahat cu polonicul). I wouldn’t put too much trust in his words.

    I’m impressed nonetheless with Monica Macovei. Everything she was saying to the US embassy was saying also publicly:

    I actually respect more some people in PDL (Basescu, Macovei) after reading the leaks than the good ol’ opposition, PSD+PNL. Especially PSD, they seem so f…ing lame.


    1. you can’t.and neither can a treavl agency.airlines require payment at the time of can either wait until you find out about the visa or you can book it now and pay now and if you do not get the visa you can cancel and get a refund as long as you purchase a refundable ticket otherwise you can still cancel but you will not get your money back you will get a credit to use for a future flight. this credit usually needs to be used within 1yr but you should check with the airline to be sure.


  5. You might want to dig a bit deeper, Sam :)

    If you look at any local political party members (i.e. consilieri locali), you’ll find the same sickening servitude, ass-kissing and sly characters found in bigger politics. Promotions inside parties happen scarcely on good criteria like capability or intelligence or good intentions.

    Of course, killing a few dinosaurs wouldn’t do wrong, but I doubt it’d have the effect you envision; the second echelon sucks just as much, going down to every town, comună and sat you can think of.

    Case study: you’ve been in Cluj for a number of years now. As far as I know, while Emil Boc was mayor in Cluj things went on an upward trend for the city, seeing that he didn’t really seek personal gains, only a good image. Since he’s been promoted to Prime Minister, things went a bit stall with the City Council in the town. At least that’s what I know .. please let me know if I’m actually wrong.


    1. Thank you so much for all of the love. I think the Dance or Die MNDR remix came out great. The track was already hot. I ateapcirpe that you can hear my influences ; )Loredana and I are up to much much more!!!


  6. A few years ago I was looking into State Dept. work with the US government, and I remember reading that regular employees (non-ambassadors.) are moved around every 2 years so as not to gain too much affinity with the country they’re working in. You’re there for American interests and that’s it. Even funnier (especially for you and I who choose to live here) is that employees assigned to Romania are given an additional ‘hardship’ allowance on top of their salaries. The allowance varies depending on where they’re assigned, but Romania falls roughly in the middle between sub-Saharan Africa (big allowance) and Western Europe (none).


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