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Re: [Czechlist] Re: Zen and the art of translation

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  • Martin Janda
    I guess I have already mentioned on this forum my experience with translating a detective story which took place at a fishing boat. The fishermen were drawing
    Message 1 of 88 , Sep 1, 2003
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      I guess I have already mentioned on this forum my experience with
      translating a detective story which took place at a fishing boat. The
      fishermen were drawing the net and the catch description included a loooong
      list of fish species names. Literally translated into Czech, the list was:
      treska, treska, treska, treska....

      Martin (back home again)

      ----- Original Message -----
      From: <JPKIRCHNER@...>
      To: <Czechlist@yahoogroups.com>
      Sent: Monday, September 01, 2003 1:33 PM
      Subject: Re: [Czechlist] Re: Zen and the art of translation


      >
      > In a message dated 9/1/03 5:24:16 AM, zehrovak@... writes:
      >
      > > Pri srovnani anglictiny a cestiny se zda, ze anglictina ma chudsi
      inventar
      > > inherentne expresivnich prostredku ne〓 cestina, coz vsak neznamena, ze
      by byl
      > > nutne mene ucinny. Expresivita v anglictine je ve vetsim mnozstvi
      pripadu
      > > oncentrovana do lexikalnich vyrazu, ktere jsou nositeli vyhradne
      expresivnich
      > > konotacnich slozek a maji radiacni schopnost, kdezto v ceskem textu je
      > > expresivita rozprostrena rovnomerneji na vetsi pocet nositelu slozek
      denotacnich i
      > > konotacnich.
      > >
      > As I mentioned to you off list (but will mention here for the rest of the
      > people), I'm a little annoyed by her use of the word "chudsi", and it
      always
      > strikes me that Czechs who claim English to be "chuda" in one respect or
      another
      > tend not to realize how "chudy" their own command of English is. The
      other
      > way of spinning what she said would be to say that Czech is lexically
      > impoverished (objectively speaking, it does have a smaller word inventory
      than, say,
      > English, Russian, Arabic or French and has to resort to a great deal of
      > circumlocution), and so it has to use nonlexical means to express nuances
      that other
      > languages are able to express lexically.
      >
      > However, in theoretical linguistics we simply explain that a complex
      system
      > of inflection allows a language's speakers to use word order and other
      > syntactic devices to express things, because the verb and case endings,
      rather than
      > word order, tell you who's doing what to whom. Meanwhile, languages that
      have
      > simple inflection or no inflection (English, Chinese, Vietnamese) find
      other
      > means to express the same or similar things.
      >
      > You can find, for example, that Esperanto has most of the syntactic
      > possibilities that Czech has, simply because its inventor (a Pole) chose
      to include an
      > accusative ending for nouns. Just one case ending.
      >
      > Everything evens out anyway, though. In what is these days called
      "African
      > American Vernacular English" there are more verb tenses than in standard
      > English, so its speakers can produce sentences like, "They been had that!"
      or, "You
      > shoulda been told me!" These meanings have to be expressed lexically in
      > standard English, and even then can only be conveyed by imprecise
      equivalents.
      > However, in that same dialect one does not have the lexical means to carry
      on
      > the linguistic discussion we are having now, and so the speaker would have
      to
      > switch into more or less standard English to do it.
      >
      > Czech can use syntax more for expressive effect than English can (although
      I
      > think this point might be arguable), but there are many aspects of modern
      life
      > in which it is impossible to express oneself in Czech (at least to the
      > satisfaction of the anglophone mind) without resorting to foreign terms,
      and even
      > then you can't do it with quite the precision or nuance that you can in
      English.
      > Graphic design and desktop publishing are one example. I also sense
      that
      > Czech lacks the financial lexicon, ranging from scientific economics all
      the
      > way to stockmarket slang, to say many things that are easily expressed in
      > English. Car maneuvers are another realm in which the Czech language is
      lexically
      > "chudsi", to use this woman's term (but not one I would normally use).
      >
      > Jamie
      >
      >
      > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      >
      >
      >
      > Visit the Czechlist Homepage at: http://www.bohemica.com/czechtranslation
      >
      > Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/
      >
      >
      >
    • melvyn.geo
      ... Very true. I shall send examples as I find them in weeks and months to come. ... Paul sent me the article recently. I shall try to put it up on the
      Message 88 of 88 , Sep 18, 2003
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        --- In Czechlist@yahoogroups.com, Mgr. Lenka Mandryszov� <iona@v...> wrote:
        > Helga is
        > right about changing the meaning when leaving out an important word, but we
        > cannot generalize it and only examples can be, IMHO, discussed here.

        Very true. I shall send examples as I find them in weeks and months to come.

        > There is a very good article about the problem (in legalese) in the latest
        > issue of ToP (Paul Sinclair - Neznalost zakona neomlouva) which aims at
        > de-mystifying legalese (common attitude to legal "speech").

        Paul sent me the article recently. I shall try to put it up on the Czechlist homepage in the near future.

        M.
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