Saturday, March 31, 2007

An author's take on translation

Faithful followers of Detectives Beyond Borders will have read my thoughts on reading translations and translators' thoughts on translating. But what does an author feel like as his or her words are rendered into an unfamiliar tongue? Shane Maloney, author of the Murray Whelan crime novels, writes with zest on the matter in this article from 2004 that recently turned up on an idle evening's blog surfing.

Among my favorite nuggets:

According to Cervantes, translation is the other side of the tapestry. Presumably he said this in Spanish, so some of the subtlety may have been lost. His gist, however, seems pretty clear. A translation is a lot fuzzier than the original, many loose threads are left dangling and the unicorn now looks like a goat.


Could I please provide meanings and possible replacements for the following terms? Franger. Duco. Shoot through. Op shop. Furphy. Laminex. Ruckman. Fibro. A piece of piss. An unreconstructed Whitlamite.

Only after attending to this basic housekeeping did we finally get down to nuts and bolts, the cross-cultural crux of the matter. American usage required that "footpath" become "sidewalk".

Get stuffed, I declared, or words to that effect. We don't have sidewalks in Australia. We have footpaths.

© Peter Rozovsky 2007

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Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Perry, I think you're right. I've discussed three of the Murray Whelan novels here, and I recently posted about the shockingly funny speech he gave at an exclusive private school a few years ago:

April 02, 2007  

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