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Re: [Czechlist] Interesting translations - 2 - Mala Strana

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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 1 of 8 , Oct 1, 2000
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      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 2 of 8 , Oct 2, 2000
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        > 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 3 of 8 , Oct 2, 2000
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          >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 4 of 8 , Oct 2, 2000
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            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 5 of 8 , Oct 2, 2000
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              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 6 of 8 , Oct 2, 2000
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                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 7 of 8 , Oct 2, 2000
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                  > 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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