RSS Feed

Lost in Translation

That’s become a kind of cliche now – Bill Murray, sitting on his hotel bed in his dressing gown at midnight looking deeply vacant.511DGIPBIdL._SX215_

But there may also be a “gain in translation”. I watched a lovely little TED talk this morning where a young Chinese woman revealed that “happiness” translated into Chinese as “fast joy”. Now I appreciate that our – as in native English speaker – understanding of the word “happiness” is a whole lot different, but the Chinese translation does give one pause.

And then there are these delightful examples. Would they gain or lose in translation?

About these ads

7 responses »

  1. But in what sense are these words untranslatable? Everything the writer says in her introduction is contradicted by the perfectly comprehensible glosses she gives for each of the words.

    Reply
  2. I hear you. I guess she just wants one word in English that says the same thing. I got really interested in the “gaining in translation” thing after listening to Chris Bliss on TED.

    Reply
    • Some of these choices of the ‘untranslatable’ are a bit iffy if she’s expecting us to marvel at the specificity of a word for a concept that’s never crossed our minds. ‘Culaccino’ is the diminutive of ‘culaccio’ meaning rump or rear end, and it is applied to the end of a loaf or sausage or anything arse-endish, not only to a glass print on a table. ‘Sobremesa’ means ‘over the table’, so presumably the word ‘conversation’ just got dropped after a while and the word became a noun. ‘Depaysement’ simply means ‘disorientation’ – she’s being terribly literal-minded over that . And a huge pinch of salt should accompany any ‘untranslatable’ Inuktitut ‘words’, because they are polysynthetic languages that collapse nouns, verbs and everything else into single words.

      Today I bought a bottle of Monkey Shoulder scotch for 22 quid and a nice, squat chunky new glass to drink it from. I resisted opening it until 6.30, which is why I’m more than commonly bolshy this early.

      Reply
  3. They forgot ‘lekker’ as number 12!

    Love your blogs xx

    Reply
  4. Hi, I haven’t watched Lost in Translation but after watching this video, I’m inclined to see it. This is a good exercise to point out direct translation. But honestly for me, direct translation doesn’t work as seen in this clip.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 36 other followers

%d bloggers like this: