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#2957 - 05/27/00 07:19 PM Translations  
Joined: Mar 2000
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juanmaria Offline
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juanmaria  Offline
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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.

#2958 - 05/28/00 10:35 AM Re: Translations  
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AnnaStrophic Offline
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AnnaStrophic  Offline
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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.


#2959 - 05/28/00 07:16 PM Re: Translations  
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AnnaStrophic Offline
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... 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


#2960 - 05/28/00 07:22 PM Re: Translations  
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tsuwm Offline
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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."





#2961 - 06/01/00 03:46 PM Re: Translations  
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juanmaria Offline
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juanmaria  Offline
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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.

#2962 - 06/01/00 03:50 PM Re: Translations  
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juanmaria Offline
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juanmaria  Offline
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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.

#2963 - 06/01/00 04:02 PM Re: Translations  
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juanmaria Offline
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juanmaria  Offline
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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.

#2964 - 06/01/00 04:05 PM Re: Translations  
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AnnaStrophic Offline
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AnnaStrophic  Offline
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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.


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




#2966 - 06/02/00 10:19 AM Re: Translations  
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Rubrick Offline
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Rubrick  Offline
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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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