OT: rambles about translation

HSchinske at aol.com HSchinske at aol.com
Mon Sep 20 15:38:46 EDT 2004

In a message dated 9/20/2004 8:32:56 AM Pacific Standard Time, Belben Philip <
Philip.Belben at eon-engineering.com> writes:

> We have translators on this list, I think, and several people who read in
> more than one language.  Does anyone have any anecdotes of silly mistakes in
> translation?  Or of things that are hard to translate?

Several of my mother's books were translated into German, and I recall one 
place where the translator made "still as a stone" into "still wie ein Fisch" 
(or possibly "stumm wie ein Fisch," I can't remember exactly). Since my mother 
had had in mind that the person never *moved*, rather than that she didn't say 
anything, the comparison with a fish seemed distinctly odd to her.

There are at least two German translations of _Murder Must Advertise_ about, 
and the one I read was not very good at all -- basically every time the 
dialogue and such got difficult, the translator left bits out, which really spoils 
the fun with an author like Sayers. I never could decide if it was a good thing 
or not that "Death Bredon" was known as Tod in the German, with Tod of course 
being an entirely possible name in English, whereas the whole point in the 
original is what an unusual name "Death" is (he says most people rhyme it with 
"teeth"). I've heard that the other translation is much better, but have never 
seen it that I recall. I don't know whether it uses Tod or not.

Helen Schinske
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