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Re: [Czechlist] Lawdy! (was: Translation Gems in Movies)

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  • Martin Janda
    You know, when you are translating a 300 or 500 page book, it s probably impossible not to make mistakes - we tend to do them in much shorter documents :-) ...
    Message 1 of 25 , Apr 1, 2004
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      You know, when you are translating a 300 or 500 page book, it's probably
      impossible not to make mistakes - we tend to do them in much shorter
      documents :-)


      ----- Original Message -----
      From: "raesim" <rachelandsimon@...>
      To: <Czechlist@yahoogroups.com>
      Sent: Thursday, April 01, 2004 2:34 PM
      Subject: [Czechlist] Lawdy! (was: Translation Gems in Movies)


      > Hello!
      >
      > > LORD OF THE RINGS: FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING (Theatrical subtitles)
      > > In the Rivendell, when Gandalf says to Frodo "You're beginning to
      > > mend", it's translated as "You're beginning to melt".
      > > When Gimli says "Nobody throws the dwarf" (before he's thrown
      > > across the chasm in Moria), it's translated as "Nobody strikes
      > > down the dwarf".
      >
      > The scripts for the Lord of the Rings films weren't worth
      > translating anyway: they're not Tolkien, but a parody of Tolkien.
      > Why, when they had great writing to draw on, did the makers of the
      > films give us bad writing? Presumably because they thought the
      > ninety-five percent of their potential audience they expected to be
      > morons wouldn't understand the original. What's particularly
      > disappointing, though, is that so few people who claim to love the
      > books seem to mind that NONE of Tolkien's dialogue is used in the
      > films. Of all the reviews on Amazon that I read (most of them
      > written by LotR obsessives), there was only one that commented on
      > the bad writing.
      >
      > Anyway, that's not why I'm writing in...
      >
      > I wanted to say, in response to reading that selection of film
      > bloopers, that I suspect there is not a single Czech translation of
      > a book or a film written in English that does not contain at least
      > one error. (Admittedly, the same may go for other or all language
      > combinations.) No, I haven't read all the books or seen all the
      > films, but the selective reading and viewing I have done have ALWAYS
      > turned up mistakes. Since we're talking about The LotR, let's take
      > as an example the Czech translation of The Fellowship of the Rings,
      > by Stanislava Posustova, which is widely held to be an excellent
      > translation. The very first sentence of the Prologue contains an
      > error:
      >
      > This book is largely concerned with hobbits, and from its pages a
      > reader may discover much of their character and a little of their
      > history.
      >
      > Tato kniha se vesmes zabyva hobity a z jejich stranek se ctenar muze
      > dozvedet hodne o jejich povaze a malo o jejich dejinach.
      >
      > When I read this, I gave up on the Prologue and flicked forward, and
      > the next sentence I stumbled upon (in Book II, Chapter 3, 'The Ring
      > Goes South') also happened to be wrong:
      >
      > A wind began to blow chill from the Misty Mountains to the east.
      >
      > Studeny vitr zacal vat od Mlznych hor k vychodu.
      >
      > This last is an example of a translator failing to think.
      > Uncontextualized, the sentence could be rendered so, but the
      > translator had the story -- and the MAP Tolkien provided -- to go
      > on, and these clearly indicate that the translation is nonsense.
      >
      > At the risk of inciting people to show off, I invite the Czechs on
      > the list to, like Faramir, 'show their quality' and tell us what's
      > wrong with the above translations and how to correct them. The
      > prize for the first correct translations is my respect, and I don't
      > know what could be worth more than that.
      >
      > Oh, you might need a hint for the second example: the Fellowship has
      > not yet set out from Rivendell.
      >
      > Simon
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
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    • Rubkova
      Ja bych to prelozila ...a neco malo o jejich dejinach A druha veta: Studeny vitr zacal vat od Mlznych hor na vychode. Podotykam, ze nejsem fanda teto knihy a
      Message 2 of 25 , Apr 1, 2004
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        Ja bych to prelozila ...a neco malo o jejich dejinach

        A druha veta: Studeny vitr zacal vat od Mlznych hor na vychode. Podotykam,
        ze nejsem fanda teto knihy a mapu jsem nukdy nevidela

        Sarka

        -----Original Message-----
        From: jsyeaton [mailto:jsyeaton@...]
        Sent: Thursday, April 01, 2004 2:52 PM
        To: Czechlist@yahoogroups.com
        Subject: [Czechlist] Re: Lawdy! (was: Translation Gems in Movies)


        I'll go first so I can take the easy one:

        >
        > "This book is largely concerned with hobbits, and from its pages a
        > reader may discover much of their character and a little of their
        > history."
        >
        > Tato kniha se vesmes zabyva hobity a z jejich stranek se ctenar
        muze
        > dozvedet hodne o jejich povaze a malo o jejich dejinach.

        ... a NECO of jejich dejinach.

        BTW, I wonder how many mistakes there are in translations of "Svejk"?

        Judy


        >





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      • Zdenek Mikan
        IMHO it is a problem of attitude: many translators think, that they should render only the general meaning of text, not every word. Some of them even think,
        Message 3 of 25 , Apr 1, 2004
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          IMHO it is a problem of attitude: many translators think, that they
          should render only the general meaning of text, not every word. Some of
          them even think, that they could express the idea better than original
          author (sometimes it can be true).

          Best Regards

          Zdenek

          Martin Janda wrote:

          > You know, when you are translating a 300 or 500 page book, it's probably
          > impossible not to make mistakes - we tend to do them in much shorter
          > documents :-)
        • raesim
          ... Actually, Judy, this competition is only open to Czechs. :-) ... Plenty, I should think. In my message, I did allow for the possibility that translators
          Message 4 of 25 , Apr 1, 2004
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            --- In Czechlist@yahoogroups.com, "jsyeaton" <jsyeaton@y...> wrote:
            > I'll go first so I can take the easy one:

            Actually, Judy, this competition is only open to Czechs. :-)

            > BTW, I wonder how many mistakes there are in translations
            > of "Svejk"?

            Plenty, I should think. In my message, I did allow for the
            possibility that translators working in other combinations were just
            as prone to error. Having said that, there does seem to be a
            culture of carelessness in this country. On Monday afternoon, I
            took a walk around Mala Strana, in the course of which I passed the
            Wallenstein Palace, home of the Czech Senate. The building has been
            beautifully renovated, but all that good work is marred by a plaque
            in English that reads something like:

            'From 1996, the palace is seat of upper house of Czech Parliament.'

            How is it that someone contracted to translate a plaque to go on the
            Czech SENATE did not have a proper grasp of English tenses, i.e. did
            not know to write 'Since...has been...' (we'll ignore the lesser
            mistakes)?

            Havel's offical site as President of the Czech Republic welcomed
            visitors to *the* Prague Castle.

            Strict about their own language, Czechs can be very lax with English.

            Simon
          • raesim
            ... Kudos galore to Sarka. Wouldn t trochu also do? malo - little trochu - a little ... Oh, Sarka, now I m disappointed in you. ... But this is impressive.
            Message 5 of 25 , Apr 1, 2004
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              > Ja bych to prelozila ...a neco malo o jejich dejinach
              >
              > A druha veta: Studeny vitr zacal vat od Mlznych hor na vychode.

              Kudos galore to Sarka.

              Wouldn't 'trochu' also do?

              malo - little
              trochu - a little

              > Podotykam, ze nejsem fanda teto knihy

              Oh, Sarka, now I'm disappointed in you.

              > a mapu jsem nukdy nevidela

              But this is impressive.

              Simon
            • Rubkova
              ... It would but I feel that neco malo is better sarka ... From: raesim [mailto:rachelandsimon@quick.cz] Sent: Thursday, April 01, 2004 3:50 PM To:
              Message 6 of 25 , Apr 1, 2004
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                >Wouldn't 'trochu' also do?
                >
                > malo - little
                > trochu - a little

                It would but I feel that "neco malo" is better

                sarka

                -----Original Message-----
                From: raesim [mailto:rachelandsimon@...]
                Sent: Thursday, April 01, 2004 3:50 PM
                To: Czechlist@yahoogroups.com
                Subject: [Czechlist] Re: Lawdy! (was: Translation Gems in Movies)


                > Ja bych to prelozila ...a neco malo o jejich dejinach
                >
                > A druha veta: Studeny vitr zacal vat od Mlznych hor na vychode.

                Kudos galore to Sarka.



                > Podotykam, ze nejsem fanda teto knihy

                Oh, Sarka, now I'm disappointed in you.

                > a mapu jsem nukdy nevidela

                But this is impressive.

                Simon





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              • jsyeaton
                ... Look at history: Americans are hard to keep out. J
                Message 7 of 25 , Apr 1, 2004
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                  --- In Czechlist@yahoogroups.com, "raesim" <rachelandsimon@q...>
                  wrote:
                  > --- In Czechlist@yahoogroups.com, "jsyeaton" <jsyeaton@y...> wrote:
                  > > I'll go first so I can take the easy one:
                  >
                  > Actually, Judy, this competition is only open to Czechs. :-)
                  >
                  Look at history: Americans are hard to keep out.

                  J
                • jsyeaton
                  ... wrote: I don t think it s as much laxness as lack of experience. After all, for 40 years translators were taught - out of necessity - that it was possible
                  Message 8 of 25 , Apr 1, 2004
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                    --- In Czechlist@yahoogroups.com, "raesim" <rachelandsimon@q...>
                    wrote:
                    I don't think it's as much laxness as lack of experience. After
                    all, for 40 years translators were taught - out of necessity - that
                    it was possible to "go into foreign," and there was certainly no one
                    around to challenge their work.

                    Now institutions (the National Museum, Lord help us!) order
                    translations in all good faith from agencies that are ISO-certified
                    (in some cases) and promise to have everything passed on by a native
                    speaker, and assume all is well.

                    In Britain, with its colonial past, and the US, home of immigrants,
                    we've always had enough native speakers from everywhere so that it
                    has been possible to insist that translators work only into their
                    native language. Americans are tolerant (to a fault) about the
                    missuse of English, the British are polite - but eventually somebody
                    will let it out how funny some of these translations sound. Or else
                    the Indians will take over the world's to-and-from English
                    translation work and we'll all just have to learn to live
                    with "whatever."

                    Judy
                    Having said that, there does seem to be a
                    > culture of carelessness in this country. On Monday afternoon, I
                    > took a walk around Mala Strana, in the course of which I passed
                    the
                    > Wallenstein Palace, home of the Czech Senate. The building has
                    been
                    > beautifully renovated, but all that good work is marred by a
                    plaque
                    > in English that reads something like:
                    >
                    > 'From 1996, the palace is seat of upper house of Czech Parliament.'
                    >
                    > How is it that someone contracted to translate a plaque to go on
                    the
                    > Czech SENATE did not have a proper grasp of English tenses, i.e.
                    did
                    > not know to write 'Since...has been...' (we'll ignore the lesser
                    > mistakes)?
                    >
                    > Havel's offical site as President of the Czech Republic welcomed
                    > visitors to *the* Prague Castle.
                    >
                    > Strict about their own language, Czechs can be very lax with
                    English.
                    >
                    > Simon
                  • raesim
                    ... I suppose I meant that the laxity is in the assumption that all is well . I find it astonishing that someone assumed that the Senate plaque did not need
                    Message 9 of 25 , Apr 1, 2004
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                      --- In Czechlist@yahoogroups.com, "jsyeaton" <jsyeaton@y...> wrote:
                      > I don't think it's as much laxness as lack of experience.
                      >
                      > Now institutions (the National Museum, Lord help us!) order
                      > translations in all good faith from agencies that are ISO-
                      > certified (in some cases) and promise to have everything passed on
                      > by a native speaker, and assume all is well.

                      I suppose I meant that the laxity is in the assumption that 'all is
                      well'. I find it astonishing that someone assumed that the Senate
                      plaque did not need to be -- at least -- reviewed by a literate
                      native speaker.

                      > Americans are tolerant (to a fault) about the
                      > missuse of English,

                      Misuse. :-) I'm just trying not to a tolerant to a fault.

                      > the British are polite - but eventually somebody
                      > will let it out how funny some of these translations sound.

                      The tolerance and politeness of native speakers can lead Czechs (and
                      all foreigners for that matter) to overestimate their abilities in
                      English. Whereas the protectiveness of Czechs towards their
                      language can make foreign learners insecure, the laissez-faire
                      attitude of native English-speakers to English gives Czechs a false
                      sense of security.

                      Simon
                    • raesim
                      ... Of course, you d never catch me bungling my English. Simon
                      Message 10 of 25 , Apr 1, 2004
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                        > > Americans are tolerant (to a fault) about the
                        > > missuse of English,
                        >
                        > Misuse. :-) I'm just trying not to a tolerant to a fault.

                        Of course, you'd never catch me bungling my English.

                        Simon
                      • jsyeaton
                        Yikes! J
                        Message 11 of 25 , Apr 1, 2004
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                          Yikes!

                          J


                          > Misuse. :-) I'm just trying not to a tolerant to a fault.
                          >
                          >
                          > Simon
                        • Michael Grant
                          ... I m not Czech, but I think adding neco before malo should do it for your first example. Michael -- With a heavy dose of fear and violence... I think
                          Message 12 of 25 , Apr 1, 2004
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                            On Apr 1, 2004, at 6:34 AM, raesim wrote:

                            > At the risk of inciting people to show off, I invite the Czechs on
                            > the list to, like Faramir, 'show their quality' and tell us what's
                            > wrong with the above translations and how to correct them.

                            I'm not Czech, but I think adding 'neco' before 'malo' should do it for
                            your first example.
                            Michael

                            --
                            "With a heavy dose of fear and violence... I think we can convince these
                            people that we are here to help them."

                            - US Lt. Col. Nathan Sassaman in Iraq
                          • Michael Grant
                            ... Of course that s the same institution that once had a sign reading Please your luggage give to the wardrobe prominently displayed in its lobby.
                            Message 13 of 25 , Apr 1, 2004
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                              On Apr 1, 2004, at 8:44 AM, jsyeaton wrote:

                              > Now institutions (the National Museum, Lord help us!) order
                              > translations in all good faith from agencies that are ISO-certified
                              > (in some cases) and promise to have everything passed on by a native
                              > speaker, and assume all is well.

                              Of course that's the same institution that once had a sign reading

                              Please your luggage
                              give to the wardrobe

                              prominently displayed in its lobby. (Admittedly, this was back in the
                              bad old days, or shortly thereafter.)

                              Michael
                              who made a small donation just to keep his suitcase happy

                              --
                              Palm
                              the space of rest
                              the dress is raised. Long eitheruse of time does not become pain. It
                              took a
                              second look also
                              the material, became feeling better.
                            • spektrum2002
                              Kdyby tam nebylo to began , tak bych napsal K vychodu prival vitr chlad od Mlznych hor . Takhle snad: Zacal byt citit chlad, ktery k vychodu prival vitr od
                              Message 14 of 25 , Apr 2, 2004
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                                Kdyby tam nebylo to "began", tak bych napsal "K vychodu prival vitr
                                chlad od Mlznych hor".
                                Takhle snad: "Zacal byt citit chlad, ktery k vychodu prival vitr od
                                Mlznych hor"
                                Petr Adamek
                                --- In Czechlist@yahoogroups.com, "raesim" <rachelandsimon@q...>
                                >
                                > A wind began to blow chill from the Misty Mountains to the east.
                                >
                                > Studeny vitr zacal vat od Mlznych hor k vychodu.
                                >
                                >> At the risk of inciting people to show off, I invite the Czechs on
                                > the list to, like Faramir, 'show their quality' and tell us what's
                                > wrong with the above translations and how to correct them.
                                >
                                > Simon
                              • spektrum2002
                                Dodatecne mne napadlo, ze chlad cisi (c^is^i ): K vychodu zacisel vetrem od Mlznych hor chlad. P.A. ... on ... what s
                                Message 15 of 25 , Apr 2, 2004
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                                  Dodatecne mne napadlo, ze chlad "cisi" (c^is^i'):
                                  K vychodu zacisel vetrem od Mlznych hor chlad.
                                  P.A.
                                  --- In Czechlist@yahoogroups.com, "spektrum2002" <padamek@c...> wrote:
                                  > Kdyby tam nebylo to "began", tak bych napsal "K vychodu prival vitr
                                  > chlad od Mlznych hor".
                                  > Takhle snad: "Zacal byt citit chlad, ktery k vychodu prival vitr od
                                  > Mlznych hor"
                                  > Petr Adamek
                                  > --- In Czechlist@yahoogroups.com, "raesim" <rachelandsimon@q...>
                                  > >
                                  > > A wind began to blow chill from the Misty Mountains to the east.
                                  > >
                                  > > Studeny vitr zacal vat od Mlznych hor k vychodu.
                                  > >
                                  > >> At the risk of inciting people to show off, I invite the Czechs
                                  on
                                  > > the list to, like Faramir, 'show their quality' and tell us
                                  what's
                                  > > wrong with the above translations and how to correct them.
                                  > >
                                  > > Simon
                                • raesim
                                  ... Your versions may well work better than the original translation in other respects, but like it they make the mistake of assuming that the wind is blowing
                                  Message 16 of 25 , Apr 2, 2004
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                                    > > A wind began to blow chill from the Misty Mountains to the east.
                                    > >
                                    > > Studeny vitr zacal vat od Mlznych hor k vychodu.

                                    --- In Czechlist@yahoogroups.com, "spektrum2002" <padamek@c...>
                                    wrote:
                                    > Kdyby tam nebylo to "began", tak bych napsal "K vychodu prival
                                    > vitr chlad od Mlznych hor".
                                    > Takhle snad: "Zacal byt citit chlad, ktery k vychodu prival vitr
                                    > od Mlznych hor"

                                    Your versions may well work better than the original translation in
                                    other respects, but like it they make the mistake of assuming that
                                    the wind is blowing to the east. It's blowing to the west, and we
                                    can be sure of this because the Fellowship is on the westward side
                                    of the mountains: climatic conditions on the other side are, at this
                                    stage of the story, irrelevant. You see, it's the mountains that
                                    are to the east of the Fellowship.

                                    Simon
                                  • spektrum2002
                                    A je ten smer vetru (tj. na zapad) jednoznacny pro NS, jenz nezna kontext, ktery uvadite? Cili: Znamena Wind blowing from the mountains to the west
                                    Message 17 of 25 , Apr 2, 2004
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                                      A je ten smer vetru (tj. na zapad) jednoznacny pro NS, jenz nezna
                                      kontext, ktery uvadite? Cili: Znamena "Wind blowing from the
                                      mountains to the west" jednoznacne "od hor lezicich na vychod"?
                                      Petr A.
                                      --- In Czechlist@yahoogroups.com, "raesim" <rachelandsimon@q...>
                                      wrote:
                                      > > > A wind began to blow chill from the Misty Mountains to the east.

                                      they make the mistake of assuming that
                                      > the wind is blowing to the east. It's blowing to the west, and we
                                      > can be sure of this because the Fellowship is on the westward side
                                      > of the mountains: climatic conditions on the other side are, at
                                      this
                                      > stage of the story, irrelevant. You see, it's the mountains that
                                      > are to the east of the Fellowship.
                                      >
                                      > Simon
                                    • Rubkova
                                      As Simon has already said there is a map in the book. But the context seems to me obvious. Sarka ... From: spektrum2002 [mailto:padamek@chello.cz] Sent:
                                      Message 18 of 25 , Apr 2, 2004
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                                        As Simon has already said there is a map in the book. But the context seems
                                        to me obvious.

                                        Sarka

                                        -----Original Message-----
                                        From: spektrum2002 [mailto:padamek@...]
                                        Sent: Friday, April 02, 2004 12:49 PM
                                        To: Czechlist@yahoogroups.com
                                        Subject: [Czechlist] Re: Lawdy! (was: Translation Gems in Movies)


                                        A je ten smer vetru (tj. na zapad) jednoznacny pro NS, jenz nezna
                                        kontext, ktery uvadite? Cili: Znamena "Wind blowing from the
                                        mountains to the west" jednoznacne "od hor lezicich na vychod"?
                                        Petr A.
                                        --- In Czechlist@yahoogroups.com, "raesim" <rachelandsimon@q...>
                                        wrote:
                                        > > > A wind began to blow chill from the Misty Mountains to the east.

                                        they make the mistake of assuming that
                                        > the wind is blowing to the east. It's blowing to the west, and we
                                        > can be sure of this because the Fellowship is on the westward side
                                        > of the mountains: climatic conditions on the other side are, at
                                        this
                                        > stage of the story, irrelevant. You see, it's the mountains that
                                        > are to the east of the Fellowship.
                                        >
                                        > Simon




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                                      • raesim
                                        ... Not jednoznacne, but I would have assumed that that was the more likely meaning. Mountains to the east feels like a stronger connection than blow...to
                                        Message 19 of 25 , Apr 2, 2004
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                                          > > > > A wind began to blow chill from the Misty Mountains to the
                                          > > > > east.

                                          --- In Czechlist@yahoogroups.com, "spektrum2002" <padamek@c...>
                                          wrote:
                                          > A je ten smer vetru (tj. na zapad) jednoznacny pro NS, jenz nezna
                                          > kontext, ktery uvadite? Cili: Znamena "Wind blowing from the
                                          > mountains to the [east]" jednoznacne "od hor lezicich na vychod"?
                                          > Petr A.

                                          Not jednoznacne, but I would have assumed that that was the more
                                          likely meaning. 'Mountains to the east' feels like a stronger
                                          connection than 'blow...to the east'. Had the author intended the
                                          other meaning, I would have expected another construction:

                                          A west wind [i.e. coming from the west] began to blow chill from...
                                          A chill wind began to blow east from...
                                          A wind began to blow chill to the east from...

                                          But the point is that the translator had the full context (including
                                          a map); she just failed to think.

                                          Simon
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