“Passion killing” or as the French call it “crime passionnel” is a crime in which an individual kills another out of an immediate burst of uncontrollable anger or emotion. The term “passion” here refers to this emotional burst which drives an individual to commit an unreasonable act of claiming the life of another. It is opposed to a planned killing of another, in which a killer plans (evidenced for instance by the purchase or the stealing of a murder weapon) and then executes the killing of another. Such planning of the death of another is what is usually considered pre-meditated murder. The expression “pre-meditated” here is composed of two parts: “pre” meaning “before” and “meditated” which means “thought of carefully over a long time”. “Pre-meditated murder” is therefore antonymous with “passion killings”.
The expression “passion killings” is translated into Setswana as “dipolaano tsa baratani” which translates awkwardly back to English as “reciprocal killings between lovers”. The word “dipolaano” suggests that an individual kills another, and then the dying victim takes revenge on their killer and kills them too! A most improbable and unintended meaning. That is the first problem with the translation of the expression “passion killings”.
The second problem regards the translation of the term “passion”. “Passion killings” are really “emotional killings”. A state of passion is a state of “great emotion”, tšhakgalo. Our Setswana translators mistook the word “passion” to mean “love” especially that at the time when this expression became common there were numerous killings reported between lovers. “Passion killings” is therefore not “dipolaano tsa baratani” because there is no reciprocal killing and there is no presupposition that there should be any “love” between the victim and the perpetrator before the murder.
** picture from http://www.mid-day.com/