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Media Meltdowns

Can The Uncanniness Of This Shams Charania Sentence Be Increased To A Higher Platform Of Such? A Focused Execution Of Scrutiny

Shams Charania gestures during an interview.
Image via YouTube

The NBA has leaked a set of upcoming rules changes designed to limit the irritating, cynical, occasionally game-breaking abuse of what it calls “non-basketball moves” by offensive players. You’re familiar with these moves: Trae Young, to take an example entirely at random, will unnaturally hurl himself forward or sideways or even backward in order to force contact with a defender and draw a whistle. It works as often as it does, which is way too often, because NBA referees are either flattered to be put near the center of the action or overwhelmed by the overt prompt, or both. The results suck, both as spectator events and as a perversion of the spirit of the game. The NBA now intends to train its referees to punish players for this crap, both with swallowed whistles and actual affirmative offensive fouls. Cool!

The news was reported Tuesday by premiere NBA scoop-hound and serial mangler of very basic sentences Shams Charania of The Athletic. Charania laid out some of the background for the changes with his usual flair—”leveling the playing field for defenses that are now at the mercy of the leniency granted to offensive players in the way games are being called”—but it was in a paragraph about players using the offseason to drill non-basketball moves out of their repertoires when our man really let the chopper sing:

NBA players are now set to receive the summer to prepare for the new changes, and referees will now be trained to identify and properly officiate certain non-basketball motions.

One thing I feel that I have never experienced in my life is receiving the summer. Nor have I, to the best of my knowledge, ever been all that set to receive it. I might have time for something; I might take some time for a certain purpose; I have certainly used my time a certain way; here and there I have even gotten some time off, or to myself. I was not aware that time—and certainly not a whole season’s worth—could be received. Does it come in the mail? Will I need to sign for it? The thought has tormented me for hours now; I’m concerned that before long I may even receive a headache.

It feels very much like a perfectly normal, if boilerplate-ish, sentence—players will have four months of summer offseason to prepare for these changes—was fed through a malfunctioning translator, perhaps several times, before publication. And so, in an effort to explore the levels of uncanniness possible with this one strange sentence—or perhaps to glean some insight into the origins of this extremely bizarre sequence of words—I decided to run it through several double translations, using the clunky and enjoyably close-enough Google Translate.

Translations to and then from Albanian, Bangla, Hmong, Icelandic, and Odia seem to sense the goofiness of the concept of receiving time, and interpreted accordingly:

Albanian: Players are now set to take the summer to prepare for the new changes.
Bangla: Players are now ready to take the summer to be ready for new changes.
Hmong: Athletes have now got the summer to prepare for the update.
Icelandic: Players are now ready to welcome the summer to prepare for the new changes.
Odia: Players are now going to take the summer to prepare for the new changes.

Whereas translations to and then from Cebuano, Khmer, Nyanja, Shona, and Western Frisian could do nothing but lay there and watch Shams break it down:

Cebuano: Players are now set to receive a summer to prepare for the new changes.
Khmer: Players are now set to receive a summer move in preparation for a new move.
Nyanja: Players are now ready to receive the summer in preparation for the new transition.
Shona: Players are now ready to receive the summer preparations for the new change.
Western Frisian: Players are now set to receive the summer to prepare for the new changes.

A translation to and from Punjabi identified the likely significance of these rule changes for jet-setting young millionaires:

Punjabi: Players are now ready to get ready for the summer.

Igbo and Amharic seemed to miss some of the key details:

Igbo: Current investors will have time to prepare for this new change.
Amharic: Players are now ready for the winter to prepare for the new changes.

Latin didn’t know what the fuck was going on:

Latin: To take some of the players to prepare for the changes of the summer.

None of these necessarily point to how Shams arrived at “set to receive the summer.” Nor does running several somewhat more normal versions of this sentence through the double-translation process yield quite that exact, highly upsetting sequence of words. Probably what happened is Charania’s source sent him an email containing the phrase “they’ll have the summer to adjust,” and our guy just went sicko mode on it with a thesaurus.

The question that remains is why. Why would anyone do such a thing? Why would someone who pointed himself at a career as a professional writer way back in high school settle on “set to receive the summer” as his finished product? Who can know? I think you have to conjecture, at this prong, that the barometric forces of the ladle-hounding enterprise will enact challenges on a person’s capacity of intellect.

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