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Interesting translations - 2 - Mala Strana

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  • Melvyn Clarke
    Hello everybody, Has anybody else ever come across this translation of Mala Strana , which I found in Ewald Oser s translation of Laska a Smeti by Ivan Klima?
    Message 1 of 8 , Oct 1, 2000
      Hello everybody,

      Has anybody else ever come across this translation of 'Mala Strana', which I
      found in Ewald
      Oser's translation of Laska a Smeti by Ivan Klima?

      Dilna se nachazela v nevelkem klenutem sklepeni malostranskeho domu.

      Her workshop was in a modest-sized vaulted basement in Prague's Little City
      district.

      A couple of other things I noted from this translation:

      An interesting idea for 'palac':
      Pak jsme se jednoho predvanocniho dne prvne milovali v komurce s malymi okny
      a s
      tlustymi zdmi pod strechou barokniho domu. Naproti zela zed palace s
      obrovitymi
      dvoukridlymi okny...

      Then one day before Christmas we first made love in a tiny attic room with
      small windows
      and thick walls under the roof of a baroque building. Facing it was a noble
      town house with enormous windows...

      American?
      Vecer se u me necekane objevila americka novinarka. Byla mlada, dychaly z ni
      francouzske parfemy a sebevedomi.

      In the evening a French [sic] woman journalist unexpectedly turned up at our
      place. She was
      young, and she radiated French perfume and self-assurance.

      Is this some brilliant device used by Osers to put over a connotation which
      he considers to be more important in the context than the primary meaning
      (i.e. to achieve 'equivalent effect') or is this a cock-up? We'll probably
      never know.



      Melvyn


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    • JPKIRCHNER@aol.com
      ... I think it must be a cock-up, whatever that is in English. ;-) I see a number of these things in literature, and it just tells me no one checks behind the
      Message 2 of 8 , Oct 1, 2000
        In a message dated 10/1/00 5:30:59 PM, zehrovak@... writes:

        >Is this some brilliant device used by Osers to put over a connotation which
        >he considers to be more important in the context than the primary meaning
        >(i.e. to achieve 'equivalent effect') or is this a cock-up? We'll probably
        >never know.

        I think it must be a cock-up, whatever that is in English. ;-)

        I see a number of these things in literature, and it just tells me no one
        checks behind the translator.

        On the first page of one of Skvorecky's novels -- Prima sezona, I think --
        the main character compares a woman in the pool to the American actress Marie
        Dressler, whom my mom told me was the female Wallace Beary. The translator
        apparently did not bother to find out who Marie Dressler was, so she appears
        in English as "Marie Dresslerová".

        The title of the English version of Skvorecky's Nevesta z Texasu really bugs
        me, too. It's "The Bride of Texas", which would mean some woman married to
        the whole state of Texas, kind of like nuns are married to God. A more
        accurate rendition would be "Texas Bride".

        The prize for annoying translations, however, as far as I'm concerned goes to
        the English version of Klima's Cekani na tmu, cekani na svetlo, which has the
        odd title, "Waiting for the Dark, Waiting for the Light". It's those "the's"
        some hack Czech translators like to put everywhere, except that the
        translator is a Brit, I think. I was greatly anticipating the release of an
        English translation of this novel, so that I could get it for my mom and
        brother, but when it came out, it was so stiff and pedantic sounding that you
        couldn't hear the "voice". I just put it back on the store shelf.

        Jamie
      • Michal Ginter
        ... which I found in Ewald Oser s translation of Laska a Smeti by Ivan Klima? ... City district. No, I haven t, but I think it s cute. Lesser Town sounds ...
        Message 3 of 8 , Oct 2, 2000
          > Has anybody else ever come across this translation of 'Mala Strana',
          which I found in Ewald Oser's translation of Laska a Smeti by Ivan
          Klima?

          > Dilna se nachazela v nevelkem klenutem sklepeni malostranskeho domu.

          > Her workshop was in a modest-sized vaulted basement in Prague's Little
          City district.

          No, I haven't, but I think it's cute. Lesser Town sounds ... I don't
          know ... sterile. I'm all for calling it THE WHIZ SIDE, but nobody
          will listen to me. LOL See, that way we'll capture both the
          magic/wizzy side of it AND keep the pun at work.



          > An interesting idea for 'palac':
          > Pak jsme se jednoho predvanocniho dne prvne milovali v komurce s
          malymi okny
          > a s
          > tlustymi zdmi pod strechou barokniho domu. Naproti zela zed palace s
          > obrovitymi
          > dvoukridlymi okny...

          > Then one day before Christmas we first made love in a tiny attic room
          with
          > small windows
          > and thick walls under the roof of a baroque building. Facing it was a
          noble
          > town house with enormous windows...

          Hmmm ... any architects on board?

          M.
        • Simon Vaughan
          ... bugs ... More accurate, maybe, but flat. The Bride of Texas has the great advantage of SOUNDING GOOD. If it s ambiguous, perhaps that s no bad thing: it
          Message 4 of 8 , Oct 2, 2000
            >The title of the English version of Skvorecky's Nevesta z Texasu really
            bugs
            >me, too. It's "The Bride of Texas", which would mean some woman married to
            >the whole state of Texas, kind of like nuns are married to God. A more
            >accurate rendition would be "Texas Bride".

            More accurate, maybe, but flat. "The Bride of Texas" has the great advantage
            of SOUNDING GOOD. If it's ambiguous, perhaps that's no bad thing: it can
            have meanings other than the literal one.

            >The prize for annoying translations, however, as far as I'm concerned goes
            to
            >the English version of Klima's Cekani na tmu, cekani na svetlo, which has
            the
            >odd title, "Waiting for the Dark, Waiting for the Light". It's those
            "the's"
            >some hack Czech translators like to put everywhere, except that the
            >translator is a Brit, I think.

            I disagree with you, Jamie. Remove the articles, and the title loses
            balance: "Waiting for Dark, Waiting for Light" lacks poise, as a phrase. I
            have no trouble whatsoever with "the's" in front of "light" and "dark".
            After all, we say "Are you afraid of the dark?", not "Are you afraid of
            dark?".

            "Right on for the darkness," as Curtis Mayfield sang (didn't he grow up in
            your state?)

            Simon
          • Melvyn Clarke
            Hullo, ... I see what you mean. In Prague in Black and Gold , Peter Demetz uses Minor Town, which is no great improvement. I always liked Little Quarter
            Message 5 of 8 , Oct 2, 2000
              Hullo,

              >> Prague's Little City district.

              Michal wrote:
              > I think it's cute. Lesser Town sounds ... I don't know ... sterile.


              I see what you mean. In "Prague in Black and Gold', Peter Demetz uses
              Minor Town, which
              is no great improvement. I always liked 'Little Quarter' after
              reading
              a translation of Neruda's
              "Malostranske povidky" with that name in the title. Somehow captures
              the little gaslamp-lit
              lanes and the little deserted courtyards echoing with warm sounds of
              family life all
              around (yes, I'm a sucker for all that stuff) and has just a soupcon
              of the quaintly colourfully continental
              about it perhaps through some subliminal semantic leakage from Latin
              Quarter.


              > I'm all for calling it THE WHIZ SIDE, but nobody
              will listen to me. LOL See, that way we'll capture both the
              magic/wizzy side of it AND keep the pun at work.

              Pun? What pun? Have I been missing a pun all these years?

              Still, wouldn't be the first time. Remember that American newspaper
              'Prognosis'? About two years after it folded, I was
              sitting in the bath one evening when I suddenly realized that in
              American English it is
              pronounced "Prague -gnosis".
              -----------------

              >>Is this some brilliant device used by Osers to put over a
              connotation which
              >>he considers to be more important in the context than the primary
              meaning
              >>(i.e. to achieve 'equivalent effect') or is this a cock-up? We'll
              probably never know.

              Jamie wrote:

              > I think it must be a cock-up, whatever that is in
              English. ;-)

              8p
              I find that Osers has so many clever intrusions and omissions that
              I'm
              left feeling even his
              boobs somehow smooth out the plot and make the narrative flow better
              (perhaps an American journalist wandering around 1980s Prague is too
              conspicuous and intrusive, a French or Italian journalist is more
              likely, surely) and I swear he adds whole clauses to tidy up the
              plot.


              A couple more nice touches I noticed:

              Vychovat
              Tatinek me nikdy nevychovaval, nic mi neprikazoval ani nezakazoval.

              Dad never tried to bring me up, he never ordered me to do anything or
              forbade me to do
              anything.

              Expanse:
              Bylo ctvrt na sedm rano, teprve ctvrt na sedm, vnimal jsem rozlohu
              dne
              pred sebou.

              It was only a quarter past six in the morning and already I could
              feel
              the stifling expanse of the day stretching out before me.

              Anyway, Jamie continued:

              > "Waiting for the Dark, Waiting for the Light". - the
              translator is a Brit, I think.

              Paul Wilson.

              >I was greatly anticipating the release of an
              English translation of this novel, so that I could get
              it for my mom and
              brother, but when it came out, it was so stiff and
              pedantic sounding that you
              couldn't hear the "voice". I just put it back on the
              store shelf.

              Interesting. I haven't read this one but I did read his translation
              of
              'Obsluhoval jsem anglickeho krale' and I can imagine how his style
              will get up your nose:). To give a random example: 'a oni s temi
              slecnami straslive pili' - 'while they and the girls drank formidable
              amounts' which probably sounds dreadfully pompous to you and misses
              the raciness and discursiveness. It's not so bad to my British ears,
              though - I think that rather than attempt to imitate the narrator's
              free-flowing untrammelled discursive style, Wilson adopts a
              special strategy of using the tone and style of an English gentleman
              raconteur and man-about-town rather than a Czech one. He also breaks
              up the breathless chapter-long
              paragraphs into neat digestible paragraphs. It's a daring strategy
              but for me it does work. It is a recognizable storytelling style that
              I feel at home with. So maybe he
              is going for equivalent effect. Maybe there is no great tradition in
              British literature of folksy raconteurs - maybe Hrabal is more
              suitable for translation into American English....I have heard that
              said before.

              Melvyn
            • JPKIRCHNER@aol.com
              ... I don t think it sounds GOOD. Or it doesn t sound better than Texas Bride, and it s adding meanings other than the literal one that just didn t happen to
              Message 6 of 8 , Oct 2, 2000
                In a message dated 10/2/00 6:04:14 PM, rachelandsimon@... writes:

                >More accurate, maybe, but flat. "The Bride of Texas" has the great advantage
                >of SOUNDING GOOD. If it's ambiguous, perhaps that's no bad thing: it can
                >have meanings other than the literal one.

                I don't think it sounds GOOD. Or it doesn't sound better than Texas Bride,
                and it's adding meanings other than the literal one that just didn't happen
                to be there in the original. Who asked her to add anything?

                >>The prize for annoying translations, however, as far as I'm concerned goes
                to
                >>the English version of Klima's Cekani na tmu, cekani na svetlo, which has
                the
                >>odd title, "Waiting for the Dark, Waiting for the Light". It's those
                "the's"
                >>some hack Czech translators like to put everywhere, except that the
                >>translator is a Brit, I think.
                >
                >I disagree with you, Jamie. Remove the articles, and the title loses
                >balance: "Waiting for Dark, Waiting for Light" lacks poise, as a phrase.

                That's not what I had in mind. That title both with and without the "the's"
                sounds like Czenglish. Both of them are very klunky. What's wrong with
                "Waiting for Darkness, Waiting for Light"? That has more poise than both of
                them.

                >"Right on for the darkness," as Curtis Mayfield sang (didn't he grow up
                >in your state?)

                I don't know. I stopped following his career after his Superfly soundtrack.

                Now, my nomination for the novel that's impossible to translate: Jan Novak's
                "Striptease Chicago".

                Jamie
              • JPKIRCHNER@aol.com
                ... It doesn t work, for example, when he s doing the gangster movie portions of Klima s darkness/light novel. Those parts are rather coarse in Czech, but
                Message 7 of 8 , Oct 2, 2000
                  In a message dated 10/2/00 8:39:46 PM, zehrovak@... writes:

                  >I think that rather than attempt to imitate the narrator's
                  >free-flowing untrammelled discursive style, Wilson adopts a
                  >special strategy of using the tone and style of an English gentleman
                  >raconteur and man-about-town rather than a Czech one.

                  It doesn't work, for example, when he's doing the "gangster movie" portions
                  of Klima's darkness/light novel. Those parts are rather coarse in Czech, but
                  the translation sounds like some British pedant trying to IMITATE gangster
                  lingo. Such distortion was a lot of fun on the BBC's radio game show "Novel
                  Ideas", where they had little RP-talking English schoolkids reading The
                  Grapes of Wrath aloud (the contestants had to identify the novels so
                  disguised), but with a serious literary translator it's a little tragic.

                  Jamie
                • Simon Vaughan
                  ... Bride, ... happen ... Maybe Skvorecky did. Kaca Polackova and Skvorecky are both expatriate Czechs living in Canada; Skvorecky is a professor of English at
                  Message 8 of 8 , Oct 2, 2000
                    > I don't think it sounds GOOD. Or it doesn't sound better than Texas
                    Bride,
                    > and it's adding meanings other than the literal one that just didn't
                    happen
                    > to be there in the original. Who asked her to add anything?

                    Maybe Skvorecky did. Kaca Polackova and Skvorecky are both expatriate Czechs
                    living in Canada; Skvorecky is a professor of English at Toronto University:
                    it seems unlikely they didn't discuss the translation.

                    > >"Waiting for the Dark, Waiting for the Light". It's those
                    > >"the's"
                    > >>some hack Czech translators like to put everywhere, except that the
                    > >>translator is a Brit, I think.

                    Paul Wilson is Canadian, too, as it happens.

                    Simon
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