Climate change activist Greta Thunberg, 16, was forced to apologise for her Friday remark that world leaders should be “put against the wall” for running away from their responsibilities with regard to protecting the environment. The young campaigner said it was confusion with the Swedish language that made her comment sound so ambiguous.
“Yesterday I said we must hold our leaders accountable and unfortunately said ‘put them against the wall’. That’s Swenglish: ‘att ställa någon mot väggen’ (to put someone against the wall) means to hold someone accountable”, Thunberg wrote on her official Twitter account. “That’s what happens when you improvise speeches in a second language”.
... improvise speeches in a second language.— Greta Thunberg (@GretaThunberg) December 14, 2019
But of course I apologise if anyone misunderstood this. I can not enough express the fact that I - as well as the entire school strike movement- are against any possible form of violence. It goes without saying but I say it anyway.
The controversial remark was made by Thunberg on Friday during a rally in Turin, Italy where she told her climate change campaign followers that world leaders were trying to “run away from their responsibilities” which they should not let happen.
“We will make sure that we put them against the wall and they will have to do their job to protect our futures”, the teenage environmentalist said.
Thunberg’s comment provoked a strong reaction from the public, causing confusion and questions about the violent overtones in the activist’s appeal.
Although many of Thunberg’s followers pointed out there was nothing entirely misleading in her remark and that even such native English speakers as US President Donald Trump is known for his prominent gaffes , so
The English phrase "back them up against the wall" means pretty well the same thing. Pressing them until they have no where else to go. Anybody misunderstanding is likely doing so intentionally.— QWERTY Girl 🛡 (@PiraatPedro) December 14, 2019
Your apology is unnecessary because their outrage is disingenuous.
It's ok.— Troy Rudd (@troyrudd) December 14, 2019
We all know somebody whose first language is English, yet butchers it every day.
Exhibit A: pic.twitter.com/xhRg41fgzZ
i liked the first version better— louder with earl browder (@bonobomindset) December 14, 2019
That's too bad. I liked it better the other way.— Anomaly (@spatial_anomaly) December 15, 2019
Greta, it's fine, we're going to go with the first meaning— village fetish (@botandy) December 14, 2019
Greta Thunberg rose to international prominence following her international “school strike” campaign last summer, calling upon Swedish authorities and world leaders to take stronger action on climate change. In September 2019, she addressed the UN Climate Action Summit in New York with her trademark “How Dare You?” speech. She had travelled to NY from Europe by boat in order to make her journey carbon-neutral.
She was also recently named Person of the Year 2019 by Time magazine, which some, including US President Donald Trump, found surprising. The latter has called the outlet’s choice “ridiculous” and said that the young activist should work on her “anger management problem” instead, which immediately provoked a response by Thunberg as she changed her Twitter profile description to match Trump’s criticism.