OT: rambles about translation

Margaret Ball margaret at onr.com
Mon Sep 20 10:54:29 EDT 2004

> Does anyone have any anecdotes of silly mistakes in
A long time ago, I read some sf writer (sorry, forget who) saying that 
in one of her books the translator had had the gall to INSERT a scene 
she never wrote. So, just to give him/her grief, she promptly wrote that 
scene into the next book.

On a sillier note, I am still ticked about having been trapped many many 
years ago by a title change/translation. My last year in college, the 
only movie theatre in walking distance of campus played _The Sound of 
Music_ for six solid months while I refused to go see anything so 
gloppy. (Had a lot of coffee-and-talk dates that year!). That summer I 
hitchhiked around Europe. One day in Austria I was trying to politely 
avoid the attentions of a nice but boring young Czech and told him I was 
going for a Very Long Walk. (He was also lazy). I hadn't gotten out of 
town before it started pouring rain, so rather than return to the hostel 
I ducked into the nearest movie theater, which was showing something 
called "Meine Lieder, Meine Traume."

Yup. You guessed it. I still haven't forgiven the Austrians for tricking 
me into seeing that musical.

But if anybody's interested, the way they translated "You are sixteen, 
going on seventeen," was "Du bist sechzehn, und du wirst siebzehn." I 
will admit that I'd been wondering how that would work in German. (You 
might be able to avoid the movie that year in America, but there was no 
way to avoid the songs - not living in a dorm anyway.)

Margaret Ball

“Americans treat their language with a furiously abundant energy – contriving two words for the price of one, hooking up unlikely neighbors with a hyphen, turning nouns into verbs and verbs into nouns – and generally beating the hell out of it.”

-Pamela Frankau

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