[DWJ] offtopic dialect question

Gili Bar-Hillel gbhillel at netvision.net.il
Mon Feb 27 02:13:52 EST 2006

Paul wrote:

> On reflection, I find that I don't usually visualise in that much
>detail, unless the situation requires; I just picture two vague lots
>of hair and leave it at that.

Men. Figures.
Just kidding. But I did finally come up with the perfect Ob-DWJ: having two
huge knots tied in your hair could be considered an acceptable hairstyle
nowadays, though it was not when Diana and her sisters were growing up.

Another Ob-DWJ I've always wondered about: Just what is "wriggly" hair? Big
curls or little curls? Or little medusa snakelets that bite if you get too

And then Paul asked:

> Ooh.
> (Is there a reason you can't just ask the author what he had in mind?)

We may still ask him, though it's not a particularly important point in the
book. I'd rather wait and see if we have more critical questions and ask
them all together. (Such as, when Sabriel "takes a cab" from school, would
this be motorized or horse-drawn?)  Also, though I'm only the editor for
this book, not the translator, I've been pretty well trained not to expect
answers from authors. J. K. Rowling has only once answered one of my
questions (which I'm not at liberty to discuss) and that was both highly
unusual and indirect; and several of the authors I've translated have been,
well, dead. I've never really had burning questions to ask Jacqueline
Wilson, who is the other living author whose books I regularly translate,
though I'd love to meet her. And I don't remember if I even thought to ask
Diana about anything when I was translating "Howl's Moving Castle"... I'm
just used to working on my own. Not that I'd mind having an open channel of
communication with an author I translate. Quite the contrary. It's just not
what I'm used too.

I don't remember where it was that I read recently, that a translator is
like an actor, who puts on the role of the author for a while, and tries to
do things that the author never did in the way the author might have done
them. More like an impostor, if you ask me. I'm an impostor pretending to be
the author, a position which makes it a bit awkward to be asking questions
of the author.

By the way, if anyone's interested, my latest translation project in print
is the *annotated* "Wizard of Oz", a book I've been working on for a good
three years. (Come to think of it, I never asked Michael Patrick Hearn any
questions about his annotations, either, though I've met him and talked to
him before.) Ob-DWJ: in honor of this book, over the Passover break I will
be giving a lecture at a local sci-fi convention comparing and contrasting
"The Wizard of Oz" with "Howl's Moving Castle". I know I've shared some of
my preliminary insights with the list, but the more thought I give this
topic, the more I find I have to say about it, so it will be fun to prepare
an honest-to-goodness full-length lecture...


More information about the Dwj mailing list