Help with Howl: Rugby, Welshisms and saucepans

Gili Bar-Hillel gbhillel at
Wed Mar 16 08:09:11 EST 2005

Two more:

Would a Rugby club be a group of fans, or the actual players themselves?!
I've just realised this could be one of those phrases that means something
quite different in British and in American!

And one last shot in the dark: there's a bit where Howl says to Sophie,
"Busy old fool, unruly Sophie". I got that that was a John Donne allusion.
There are also allusions to Hamlet in a later chapter, where Howl says "alas
poor Yorrick" to the skull, and later "something is rotten in the state of
Denmark". I'm wondering if there are any other such allusions I might have
missed. This is the sort of thing us translators dread, the potential for
humiliation is vast. There wouldn't happen to be anyone here who's prepared
a List of Obscure Literary Allusions and other Translation Pitfalls in
Howl's Moving Castle? Sigh. Didn't think so.


-----Original Message-----
From: owner-dwj at [mailto:owner-dwj at]On Behalf Of
Gili Bar-Hillel
Sent: Wednesday, March 16, 2005 2:46 PM
To: dwj at
Subject: Help with Howl: Rugby, Welshisms and saucepans

A barrage of question to assist me in my translation of "Howl's Moving

Thanks to this list I know a little about Calcifer's saucepan song, but I
don't know where the lyrics: "They think so much about me that they always
play without me" come into the Welsh folksong that was posted on this list a
couple of years ago. Are these alternate lyrics to the same song, sung at
Rugby matches? Or is it a different song altogether?

What does "fly up the wing" mean, in Rugby?

Are the Welsh known to be particularly musical, or just the opposite? (Howl
bemoans being born "an unmusical Welshman")

Can someone elaborate on the origin of the phrase "welcome in the valleys"?
I gather this is somehow specific to Wales, but is there something to it
other than plain geography? Do the Welsh think of themselves as being
particularly welcoming?

"Cariad" = dearest or darling in Welsh?

Is Howell a particularly Welsh name?

Many thanks for all information and insights you might provide.

I'm almost done translating and am now proofing and improving. I'm quite
pleased with the way the John Donne poem worked out, that was VERY tricky,
but I pretty much managed to keep the rhymes as well as the wordplay (in
Hebrew, Neil thinks it's about a bicycle). I've been told that the cover
will be designed by the same Israeli artist who did artwork for Philip
Pullman's trilogy which was recently published here. Here are links to his
covers for His Dark Materials , I'm quite curious to see what he does for

Golden Compass

Subtle Knife

Amber Spyglass

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