- Posted by Stephen Whiteley
- On 23/02/2011
- go on no-one's looking, Translation
“The sum of human wisdom is not contained in any one language, and no single language is capable of expressing all forms and degrees of human comprehension.” Ezra Pound
UNTRANSLATABLE WORDS #15: L’esprit de l’escalier (French)
The act of thinking of a clever comeback when it is too late to deliver it, after one has left the scene of the encounter.
The Yiddish trepverter (“staircase words”) and the German loan translation Treppenwitz (when used in an English language context) express the same idea as l’esprit de l’escalier.
UNTRANSLATABLE WORDS #16 – Mot juste (French)
The perfectly appropriate word or phrase for the situation.
“She legged it, and for a moment silence reigned. Then Bobbie said, ‘Phew!’ and I agreed that ‘Phew!’ was the mot juste.” (P. G Wodehouse – Jeeves in the Offing)
A Spanish regional language theme this week. First, two great blogs on Catalan translation –
And then an online archive of Galician poetry.
TRANSLATION FAIL #1: “”You could treat it as a bit of a joke unless you were that prisoner and you didn’t understand how the British prison service worked…It wouldn’t be a funny thing for him.”
TRANSLATION FAIL #2: Backstroke of the West , a winning combination of Star Wars and internet translation engines.
“In its way a spiritual exercise, translation is dependent on the dissolution of the translator’s ego: an absolute humility toward the text. A bad translation is the insistent voice of the translator — that is, when one sees no poet and hears only the translator speaking.” Eliot Weinberger (19 Ways of Looking at Wang Wei, 1987)
TRADUCCIÓN Y COMPROMISO SOCIAL: Anne Martin, Mona Baker y Jesús de Manuel Jerez analizan brevemente el papel de los traductores e intérpretes en una sociedad “cada vez más mundializada y conflictiva”.
Two articles on endangered languages:
And an Economist interview with K. David Harrison, world expert on language death.
UNTRANSLATABLE WORDS #17. Tingo
Pascuense (Easter Island) – “the act of taking objects one desires from the house of a friend by gradually borrowing all of them.”
Sometimes, of course, a translation can enhance a work in ways the author never imagined. Gabriel García Marquez has said he prefers Gregory Rabassa’s English translation of One Hundred Years of Solitude to the Spanish original, to which Rabassa replied, “That is probably less of a compliment to my translation than it is to the English language.”
…and finally, have you ever wondered what football players talk about during a match?
All this and more at the QuickSilver Translate Facebook page!