[DWJ] HOMEWARD BOUNDERS translation question

Gili Bar-Hillel gbhillel at netvision.net.il
Tue Jul 6 04:31:42 EDT 2010

Farah, the swearing story is terrific!

Translating idioms is tricky - "taking the Mickey" doesn't mean anything in
Hebrew either, so simply substituting another name would not produce a
meaningful phrase regardless of the name substituted. It will have to be a
compromise along the lines of "making fun of". And yes, we do lose the
subtlety of the Catholic non-swearing-as-swearing, but I'm rather convinced
this is lost on a great many of the English-language readers anyway... And
Jamie has plenty of perfectly translatable euphemisms, such as "unprintable

Where we did make a minor substitution for culture's sake was with the name
of the Wandering Jew, Ahasuerus. Jewish children reading this name would
inevitably tie it with the Persian King from the Purim story in Esther's
Scroll, Ahasuerus (Xerxes), who was most definitely not Jewish. I have no
idea how the non-Jewish name Ahasuerus came to be associated with the
Wandering Jew - this is not DWJ's invention, historical sources corroborate
this name - but for a modern Jewish child reader it would be confusing. We
made a very minor change and call him Ahasuer, also a documented historical
variant of the name but just different enough to avoid confusion.

-----Original Message-----
From: dwj-bounces at suberic.net [mailto:dwj-bounces at suberic.net]On Behalf Of
Farah Mendlesohn
Sent: Tuesday, July 06, 2010 11:18 AM
To: Diana Wynne Jones discussion
Subject: Re: [DWJ] HOMEWARD BOUNDERS translation question

It occurs to me that translating this one not so much into Hebrew, but into
something that a Jewish (and Jewish educated) child would understand might
be tough.

I wonder if you could change it to Prophet, or something relating to Elijah?

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