[DWJ] HOMEWARD BOUNDERS translation question

Gili Bar-Hillel gbhillel at netvision.net.il
Tue Jul 6 05:29:34 EDT 2010

Excellent! Straight from the Minnow's mouth, as it were.

Tons of thanks to all who chipped in: Minnow, Farah, Charlie and Ehsan. And
thanks to Diana herself!This is one of my favorite parts of translating, it
makes you take a long hard look at phrases that most people just gloss over
in regular reading, and sometimes you discover wonderful new bits of


-----Original Message-----
From: dwj-bounces at suberic.net [mailto:dwj-bounces at suberic.net]On Behalf Of
Sent: Tuesday, July 06, 2010 12:13 PM
To: Diana Wynne Jones discussion
Subject: Re: [DWJ] HOMEWARD BOUNDERS translation question

Gili Bar-Hillel wrote:
> Hello list! Perhaps you might be able to help us with a translation
> we have not been able to resolve, in THE HOMEWARD BOUNDERS. The expression
> "taking the Archangel" repeats several times, and we don't quite know what
> it means... it seems to mean something like taking the Mickey or being
> disingenuous, but I haven't been able to find it used elsewhere. here are
> some quotes:
> Chpt. 8: "Helen and Joris lagged a bit, so I turned round to see why. And
> there was joris grinning at Helen, and Helen parting her hair in order to
> smirk back. I was furious. They were taking the Archangel - as they say in
> some worlds. This was Helen's revenge. She and Joris thought I showed off
> about all my experience, so they'd chosen to stay here to see what kind of
> mess I got them into."
> Chpt. 9: "I do think Helen and Joris might have stopped their joke after I
> got us off that city station too. [...] When were were outside the station
> yard, I turned round to suggest to Helen and Joris that I'd taken enough
> the Archangel now, and to come off it."
> Chpt. 10: "Now, you must have noticed that Adam was quick on the uptake.
> side of his mouth gave a bit of a flicker, and he turned to Joris in a
> smooth way that I could tell was taking the Archangel. 'Tell me all aobut
> Konstam,' he said."
> Chpt. 13: "Then I though of Helen. [...] Helen taking the Archangel out of
> me and snarling and snapping. She couldn't thank people, Helen. She hated
> saying thank you."
> So, list... is this a known expression, or a private joke of sorts?

I have not heard it in common use.

THE archangel is Michael; there are others like Azrael or Gabriel but he
is the one who is meant by this.

The joke is that it is a way to emphasise that in Jamie's own world they
don't (yet) say "take the Mickey", so to him that was an unfamiliar
expression when he met it on another world; he has assumed the Archangel
because it is obviously swearing of some sort so it must be about a
Sacred Person, and he says the Archangel because it is more respectful.
He is a rather serious-minded person himself, and has taken it more
seriously than perhaps it merits.

Jamie using the phrase and getting it a bit wrong is the *real* joke, I

Thus far my guesses.  When it is a bit later in the morning so she has
had time to wake up I will ring to confirm or get them denied, and send
this one way or the other.

And it now is, so I could, and did, and Diana says, "yes, that's all it
is, and I'm sure Gili will find something that does the job in
translation because I have every faith in her."

She says it was a private joke for that book, as far as she knows.

A slight over-pompousification of a familiar phrase that means "pull
someone's leg for being a bit too serious" is what is needed,
apparently.  So that the phrase itself is a leg-pull.

Cheers, and I hope that is some help,


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