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#2957 - 05/27/00 03:19 PM Translations
juanmaria Offline
member

Registered: 03/15/00
Posts: 163
Loc: Malaga, Spain.
I’m getting more and more interested on translations. When I started learning English I always tried to find a Spanish word with the same meaning of the English word I came across. So I was translating ‘on the fly’ what I was reading. When somebody asked me to translate something I could translate-read pretty quickly. But as time, and books, went on, English words started representing images or concepts in my head and no longer Spanish words. Now when someone asks me for a translation it seems to me a lot more difficult than before. There are lots of words that cannot be substituted by a Spanish equivalent. They don’t evoke the same ideas on my mind.
For this reason I find the work of translators fascinating and what I thought before that was a mechanic activity now I think that needs huge amounts of creativity.
I would like reading anecdotes about translations. To begin I’m going to write about a difficult situation solved with creativity and some luck.
A few days ago I watched the Spanish-dubbed version of ‘Four Rooms’, this film starts with a senior bellhop explaining the tricks of the trade to a ‘newbie’. He says -more or less-: ‘We are called bellhops because some schmuck rings the bell and you hop’.
The Spanish word has nothing to do with ‘bellboy’ or ‘bellhop’ we call them ‘botones = buttons’ and it is because their uniforms used to be red and with two files of golden buttons. How this translation can be made?. On a book you can skip the paragraph, but dubbing a film?.
‘We are called ‘buttons’ because some schmuck presses a button and you run’.


Juan Maria.

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#2958 - 05/28/00 06:35 AM Re: Translations
AnnaStrophic Offline
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Registered: 03/15/00
Posts: 6511
Loc: lower upstate New York
Juan,

I've done a lot of translating and yes, it is a skill that requires as much innate writing ability and creativity as it does knowledge of the languages in question.

Film dubbing for me is the trickiest!! Subtitiles are one thing, dubbing requires you get the meaning, adapt it to the target culture AND fit the words into the actors' mouths. ... and poetry translation? You have to be a poet to translate poetry, I think, which is why I never tried my poetic license on that.

Maybe Emanuela can give us the source of this old Italian saying: "Traddutori traditori"--"Translators
betray their trust" or more simply, "Translators are traitors."

Anecdotes abound; I shall return with some.


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#2959 - 05/28/00 03:16 PM Re: Translations
AnnaStrophic Offline
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Registered: 03/15/00
Posts: 6511
Loc: lower upstate New York
... meanwhile, here's a fun site I found among my bookmarks:

http://hearsay.simplenet.com/translation/

You'll find lots of good stuff here, JM; e.g.:

"When a passenger of foot heave in sight,
tootle the horn. Trumpet him melodiously
at first, but if he still obstacles your passage
tootle him with vigor."
-From a brochure at a Tokyo car rental firm


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#2960 - 05/28/00 03:22 PM Re: Translations
tsuwm Offline
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Registered: 04/03/00
Posts: 10523
Loc: this too shall pass
This is why I almost always prefer to watch a subtitled movie vs. a dubbed one, given a choice. To me, the mismatched (and usually under-inflected) dubbing is much more distracting than having to read subtitles!

As to poetry translations, I've always thought that a poet must have to read a poem in the original language and say to himself, "I could write something like this in [say] English."





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#2961 - 06/01/00 11:46 AM Re: Translations
juanmaria Offline
member

Registered: 03/15/00
Posts: 163
Loc: Malaga, Spain.
> ... and poetry translation? You have to be a poet to translate poetry, I think, which is why I never tried my poetic license on that.


‘Poetry translation’. Is such a thing possible?. I think it must be like giving a picture to a musician and asking for a symphony.

Another anecdote about translations. This one was solved not with creativity but with chutzpah:
A ‘translator’ when working on a French novel mistook ‘ancre = anchor’ for ‘encre = ink’. And he wrote the paragraph this way:
‘The sailors threw the ink to the water’.
After reading that he must not be happy at all so he wrote at the end of the page.

Translator’s note:
‘Throwing the ink’: Old custom among French sailors.


Juan Maria.

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#2962 - 06/01/00 11:50 AM Re: Translations
juanmaria Offline
member

Registered: 03/15/00
Posts: 163
Loc: Malaga, Spain.
>This is why I almost always prefer to watch a subtitled movie vs. a dubbed one, given a choice. To me, the mismatched (and usually under-inflected) dubbing is much more distracting than having to read subtitles!

I can tell you that, lately, when I’m watching a dubbed film I keep finding expressions that when ‘untraslated’ make me understand better what I’m watching. But it’s a tedious thing.
For example, we have only a word for a blackman :‘negro’ -sometimes you can hear ‘de color’= ‘colored’ but it’s considered as a fussy euphemism-, so when on a film somebody calls another ‘ni***r’ they dub it as ‘negrata’. That is an artificial word coined only for dubbing purposes. We can’t understand it as a strong insult it seems like a kiddy word.
We have lots of film-coined words or expressions in Spanish. We have grew accustomed to those film words but nobody would dare using them in the real world.


Juan Maria.

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#2963 - 06/01/00 12:02 PM Re: Translations
juanmaria Offline
member

Registered: 03/15/00
Posts: 163
Loc: Malaga, Spain.
>... meanwhile, here's a fun site I found among my bookmarks:
http://hearsay.simplenet.com/translation


Thank you!
This site is a must!. I cannot stop laughing.

Juan Maria.

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#2964 - 06/01/00 12:05 PM Re: Translations
AnnaStrophic Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 03/15/00
Posts: 6511
Loc: lower upstate New York
>>A ‘translator’ when working on a French novel mistook ‘ancre = anchor’ for ‘encre = ink’. And he wrote the paragraph this
way:
‘The sailors threw the ink to the water’.
After reading that he must not be happy at all so he wrote at the end of the page.

Translator’s note:
‘Throwing the ink’: Old custom among French sailors.<<

JM, I love this! Too funny.... chutzpah, indeed. Talk about trnaslation as betrayal. Thanks for sharing that.


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#2965 - 06/02/00 02:37 AM Re: Translations
David108 Offline
member

Registered: 05/09/00
Posts: 112
Loc: Auckland, New Zealand
>>JM, I love this! Too funny.... chutzpah, indeed. <<

...which leads to another thought, not unrelated. How many words in current usage in the English language have their origins in Yiddish?

And if Yiddish words are being used freely in English, how many of them are being used in, say, Spanish? I was delighted to see juanmaria's post include "Chutzpah". Do you use others, jm?




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#2966 - 06/02/00 06:19 AM Re: Translations
Rubrick Offline
addict

Registered: 05/18/00
Posts: 679
Loc: Somewhere outside New York
> ‘Poetry translation’. Is such a thing possible?. I think it must be like giving a picture to a musician and asking for a
symphony.

Yes, it is! If you haven't seen it then get Cyrano de Bergerac out on video - the one with Gerard Depardieu in the leading role. The entire film is in French rhyming couplets but so are the English subtitles! What's even more surprising is that the context and the humour are not lost in the translation. Top marks to the scholar who sat down and sweated over that coup de majesté


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#2967 - 06/02/00 06:23 AM Re: Translations
Rubrick Offline
addict

Registered: 05/18/00
Posts: 679
Loc: Somewhere outside New York
> ...which leads to another thought, not unrelated. How many words in current usage in the English language have their
origins in Yiddish?

In England (London especially) 'Nosh' is a Yiddish word for food. Used mostly by Cockneys it was borrowed from the many Jewish immigrants in London at the end of the last century (we haven't reach the end of the 20th century yet - if anyone wanted to take me up on that point)

There are a few others but, for the life of me, I can't think of them.


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#2968 - 06/02/00 07:34 AM Re: Yiddish
AnnaStrophic Offline
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Registered: 03/15/00
Posts: 6511
Loc: lower upstate New York
Translations, schmanslations.
You want I should elaborate, already?

Yep. We in the US (mainly New York, of course) enjoy a lot of Yiddish influence, not only in our words, but also in the syntax. Colorful stuff. I love it.

Brick, I am waiting for the start of the new millennium.


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#2969 - 06/02/00 07:45 AM poetry
AnnaStrophic Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 03/15/00
Posts: 6511
Loc: lower upstate New York
Over on the expletive board, Brick tells us this:

>>The renowned poet - Seamus Heaney (who I have had the pleasure to have met) used the 'f' word many times in his poetry which he read to an audience of visiting tourists in Dublin recently. Not many were shocked.<<

Heaney's new translation of "Beowulf", the first (and only extant, to my knowledge) poem written in "English," is selling well... yes, even here in the colonies. It's next on my reading list. Takes a poet to translate a poet (even an anonymous one )


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#2970 - 06/02/00 08:10 AM Re: Translations
paulb Offline
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Registered: 03/17/00
Posts: 460
Loc: Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
Anthony Burgess was the scholar who provided the rhyming subtitles for Cyrano de Bergerac.


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#2971 - 06/02/00 08:21 AM Re: Translations
Rubrick Offline
addict

Registered: 05/18/00
Posts: 679
Loc: Somewhere outside New York
> Anthony Burgess was the scholar who provided the rhyming subtitles for Cyrano de Bergerac.

Thanks for that, Paul. It was just after I posted that last notice that I discovered an old programme of that play, which I saw last year, in my desk drawer. There, clearly written, was translated by Anthony Burgess.


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#2972 - 06/03/00 10:42 AM Re: Translations
juanmaria Offline
member

Registered: 03/15/00
Posts: 163
Loc: Malaga, Spain.
>And if Yiddish words are being used freely in English, how many of them are being used in, say, Spanish?

When I started finding such words as ‘chutzpah’, ‘schmuck’ or ‘yenta’ in books and magazines I had this same thought, where are our Yiddish words?. Then I remembered that by the fifteen century the Jews were expelled from Spain. A thing that, as you can see, contributed to increase our cultural richness.


Juan Maria.

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#2973 - 06/04/00 06:08 AM Re: Translations
David108 Offline
member

Registered: 05/09/00
Posts: 112
Loc: Auckland, New Zealand
>>Then I remembered that by the fifteen century the Jews were expelled from Spain<<

Not quite right, juanmaria - the Jews expelled from Spain would have spoken a language that had its origins in the Latin languages, and not Germanic/Polish, from which Yiddish derives.

The "Sephardi" (Latin) Jews are a different group from the "Ashkenazi" (Middle and Eastern European). Their practises, liturgy, and even foods are influenced by their respective regions. In addition, spoken Hebrew, the language of prayer, is clearly distinguishable between the groupings.

Many Sephardi Jews speak Esperanto, or Ladino, as well as English and/or French. Very few of them (if any) use Yiddish.

I've gone off-topic again!

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#2974 - 06/04/00 07:27 AM Re: Translations
juanmaria Offline
member

Registered: 03/15/00
Posts: 163
Loc: Malaga, Spain.
Oops!.
I thought that Yiddish was synonym for Hebrew. My knowledge of Jew culture, as you can see, is very limited. There are not many Jews in Spain, almost all the things I know about them come from watching American films or telefilms.
Anyway, I keep thinking that the expulsion of Jews was an error that impoverished our country in many aspects.
Thank you for the information I’m here, among other things, for learning.


Juan Maria.

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#2975 - 06/04/00 08:44 AM Re: Dubbing
emanuela Offline
enthusiast

Registered: 03/16/00
Posts: 315
Loc: Italy - Perugia is a town with...
An example of correct translation...WRONG!
In the movie "The planets of apes" a tailor is measuring the chest of an ape (human size) and he says "forty"; in the Italian version he says "quaranta"(=40); it seems correct, but an Italian tailor would feel that it is wrong... because forty (inches) means ...100 (centimeters)!
Ciao
Emanuela


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#2976 - 06/04/00 09:54 AM Re: Translations
AnnaStrophic Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 03/15/00
Posts: 6511
Loc: lower upstate New York
>>Many Sephardi Jews speak Esperanto, or Ladino, as well as English and/or French....

David,
Your comment sparks my curiosity. Esperanto is a made-up language, made up by a Polish (i.e. Ashkenazy) Jew. I studied it one year, many years ago. Tell me more about why Sephardis in particular speak it ... has it become a lingua franca among them? I'd never heard this before...


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#2977 - 06/04/00 04:21 PM Re: Translations
David108 Offline
member

Registered: 05/09/00
Posts: 112
Loc: Auckland, New Zealand
>>Many Sephardi Jews speak Esperanto, or Ladino, as well as English and/or French...<<

You're right, Anna, Esperanto has its origins in Middle Europe, but it seems to have spread rapidly all over the World. I'm not sure why Sephardi Jews use it as widely as they do - I just know that my grandfather, of Sephardi origin, was very keen for his descendants to adopt the language. He was something of a pioneer in his time, and obviously thought the language had important potential.

In meeting Sephardi Jews over the years, I have found many who speak Esperanto fluently. Sadly, I'm not one of them!

http://www.esperanto.net/


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#2978 - 06/07/00 05:42 PM Re: Translations
patatty Offline
stranger

Registered: 03/20/00
Posts: 19
Loc: Orange County Calif.
"Cyrano" is a perfect example of successful poetry (and prose) translation.
As a young boy, I read Brian Hooker's translation and was captivated for life. (I wrote originally "hooked", but scrapped it as distracting to my point.)
I guess I'll have to grab an Anthony Burgess to decide who did the better job.


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#2979 - 06/07/00 06:18 PM Re: Translations
patatty Offline
stranger

Registered: 03/20/00
Posts: 19
Loc: Orange County Calif.
Anna -
Thank you for that Hearsay site.
I haven't explored it all, but what I did scan reminded me of the remarkable phraseology in the letter below. Maybe I'll submit it to them as well.

Taken from a Tokyo dunning letter to an American customer:

“Dear Sir:
If you fail to manufacture your ancient payment soonest, we shall take such steps as to cause you the utmost
damned astonishment!
Cordially,
(signed)”



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#2980 - 06/08/00 08:20 PM Re: Translations
Jackie Offline

Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 03/15/00
Posts: 11609
Loc: Louisville, Kentucky
>>Taken from a Tokyo dunning letter to an American customer:

“Dear Sir:
If you fail to manufacture your ancient payment soonest, we shall take such steps as to cause you the utmost
damned astonishment!
Cordially,
(signed)” <<

It seems to me that most of the Oriental languages are much more difficult to translate to and from just about any
European language than the European ones are to each other.
They seem to require a whole new mindset.
This one reminds me of the cockamamie chicken story in
another thread.





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#2981 - 06/09/00 10:49 AM Re: Esperanto/Ladino
AnnaStrophic Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 03/15/00
Posts: 6511
Loc: lower upstate New York
>>In meeting Sephardi Jews over the years, I have found many who speak Esperanto fluently.

David, that's fascinating! Thanks for that. I guess Esperanto is more adaptable to neologisms than is Ladino, and could well serve as a lingua franca .
Now I have another question: is the Ladino spoken by Sfardis the same as the Ladino (Rhaeto-Romansch) spoken in parts of Switzerland?


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#2982 - 06/09/00 10:57 AM Re: Translations
AnnaStrophic Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 03/15/00
Posts: 6511
Loc: lower upstate New York
Patatty,

Thanks for that chuckle. I hope you do submit it, it's a true gem.


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#2983 - 06/09/00 03:38 PM Re: Esperanto/Ladino
David108 Offline
member

Registered: 05/09/00
Posts: 112
Loc: Auckland, New Zealand
>>is the Ladino spoken by Sfardis the same as the Ladino (Rhaeto-Romansch) spoken in parts of Switzerland?<<

Good question, Anna - I have no idea! The following answer comes from GuruNet:

Ladino:
A Romance language with elements borrowed from Hebrew that is spoken by Sephardic Jews especially in the Balkans.
Also called: Judeo-Spanish.

That is new to me: I always believed that Ladino was confined to Western Europe - France, Spain, Portugal.

It must have a relationship, being in the right geographical area.


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