Metaglossia: The Translation World
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Metaglossia: The Translation World
News about translation, interpreting, intercultural communication, terminology and lexicography - as it happens
Curated by Charles Tiayon
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20 more awesomely untranslatable words from around the world

When linguists refer to "untranslatable" words, the idea is not that a word cannot somehow be explained in another language, but that part of the essence of the word is lost as it crosses from one language to another.!
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India's Hindus Commune With Their 'Great Water'

On Jan. 14, more than 8 million pilgrims poured into the north Indian city of Allahabad to take a dip in the waters of the river Ganga and inscribe their lives into one of the oldest and grandest religious traditions of the Indian subcontinent....

In his novel "Shame," Salman Rushdie writes, "To unlock a society, look at its untranslatable words." Extending this a few steps, one might say that to understand a society we should also study or live through its untranslatable experiences -- private and communal events that are approached though myth, religion, history and memory. To the more than 800 million Indianswho think of themselves either loosely or strongly as Hindu, the word "Ganga" has just such an untranslatable charge, a node of beauty, fertility, sacredness and benediction.!
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Author Ascending A Staircase – The Arty Semite –

In 1940-1941, as part of the American journalist Varian Fry’s rescue of anti-Nazi European intellectuals, artist Marcel Duchamp fled to New York, with a brief stopover in Morocco. This visit is the focus of a new novel by Serge Bramly, a Frenchman of Tunisian Jewish origin. The title of “Orchidée fixe” cites a virtually untranslatable pun by Duchamp referring to orchids and obsessions.

Read more:!
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La traduction et le multilinguisme - E-revue de culture contemporaine

Le site de la revue de culture contemporaine Etudes. International, Société, Religions, Arts et philosophie.!
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Ten Words That Can't Be Translated

The translation of a single word can be a minefield, and a misstep can lead to disaster. Here are ten hard-to-translate concepts.

To most people, the process of translation sounds easy. Just take a phrase and one language and convert it into another, just like online translation tools do, right?

If only it were so simple! The reality is that even the translation of a single word can be a minefield, and a misstep can lead to disaster. The difficulty of translation also depends on what language you start in and what language you are working into, because some languages lack linguistic equivalents for concepts that are foreign to their culture.!
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Translation delays Montreal shooter's murder trial

(AFP) – 2 days ago
MONTREAL — The trial of a Canadian accused of opening fire at a Quebec separatist election victory rally last month, killing one person and wounding another, was delayed Thursday so court documents could be translated into English.
Richard Henry Bain, 61, appeared at a Montreal court to face charges of first degree murder and attempted murder, but the proceedings were quickly adjourned to December 7.
The judge agreed to a defense request to have all of the relevant court documents translated into English, from French.
Bain's lawyer, Elfriede Duclervil, also pressed for the prosecution to hand over outstanding evidence for review, including a full transcript of a 38-minute interview Bain gave from prison to English-language radio station CJAD following his arrest.
The radio station played only parts of the interview in which Bain said he was delivering a message from God and called for the island of Montreal to split from the rest of the province because the ruling Parti Quebecois looked to split Quebec from the rest of Canada.
Bain, the English-speaking owner of a hunting and fishing business, is alleged to have opened fire on September 4 outside a Montreal concert venue where Quebec's premier-elect Pauline Marois was celebrating her separatist Parti Quebecois' victory in provincial elections.
A lighting technician was killed and another hall worker wounded before the shooter, dressed in a balaclava and bathrobe and shouting "The English are rising," was subdued by a police officer.
Duclervil also said she would ask for an immediate investigation of an incident that resulted in Bain showing up at a courthouse with a small cut on his forehead, claiming "a guard pushed me."!
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Was it Lost In Translation? Blue Jays, Yunel Escobar Will Learn the Hard Way.

Perhaps this is one of the many "lost in translation" words and actions that will continue to occur as our growing Latino community begins to spill over into the rest of the English speaking society.

Was it a joke, or was it "lost in translation? Toronto Blue Jays shortstop Yunel Escobar learned that what we say and do in Spanish is not always interpreted the same way in English. Yunel thought it was a joke to write, "TU ERES MARICON" (You're a faggot) on his eye-black stickers that are sometimes worn under the eyes to reduce the sun's glare. His action has led to a flurry of criticism and actions including a press conference to apologize, a three-day suspension and three days of docked pay that will be donated to You Can Play and the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.

Yunel Almenares Escobar is a 30-year-old Cuban born who is single and who resides in Miami, Florida. He attended Matires de Barbados School in Havana, Cuba. Like many young men his age I have been with in Puerto Rico and in Cuba, I can attest that the word, "maricon" is many times used to describe many other things other than its official derogatory meaning. It can be used to mean, "Dumb, Idiot, Weak," or to add emphasis when you want a friend's undivided attention.

In fact I have a close Puerto Rican friend that I have known for over 30 years that still to this day will leave a voice mail, "oye maricón te llamado mil veces y no me devuelve mi llamada." Literal translation: "Hey faggot I've called you a million times and you have not returned my call." I laugh and at no time do I feel offended because I know he is not calling me a faggot, he uses the word to show his displeasure with me not returning his call in a joking matter. Throughout my 24 years covering baseball I have heard that same word many times in a clubhouse, dugout and on the field, but only among Latino players and only to each other in a joking manner.!
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Un verso intraducible

En su Diccionario de citas, don Vicente Vega incluye una de Cyrano de Bergerac: “Un point rose qu’on met sur l’i du verbe aimer”.!
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USA2012: Glossaire des termes intraduisibles de la politique américaine | USA 2012

Les campagnes américaines drainent avec elles des expressions on ne peut plus anglo-saxonnes qui peuvent devenir des casse-têtes pour les traducteurs et journalistes français.!
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Fuchsia Macaree y su diccionario de palabras intraducibles

Fuchsia Macaree es una ilustradora irlandesa que tuvo una idea genial y tierna que publicó en la revista local Total Dublin, un magazine con relativa fama en aquellos lares por su propuesta visual y contenidos. La obra de Macaree se trata de un alfabeto de palabras de todo el mundo que son intraducibles a otros idiomas.

De modo tal que tenemos 26 ilustraciones, una por cada letra del abecedario, que ilustran palabras únicas que sólo tienen sentido y significado en el país donde proceden, y en mayor o menor medida son intraducibles como palabras solas a otros idiomas. Desde una expresión para referirse a un mal corte de pelo hasta otra que refiere a construir cualquier cosa en tu jardín para molestar al vecino.

Les comparto mi breve selección de palabras favoritas:

Age-tori (japonés): Lucir peor de lo que lucías antes despúes de un corte de cabello.
Backpfeifengesicht (alemán): Una cara que necesita una bofetada.
Craic (irlandés): Una compañía, una conversación que es divertida o entretenida.
Gigil (filipino): La irresistible urgencia de pellizcar o apretar algo bonito.
Mamihlapinatapai (yagán): Una mirada mutua de deseo entre dos personas.
Neidbau (alemán): Cualquier construccción hecha con el único propósito de molestar a tu vecino.
Zhaghzhagh (persa): Tiritar los dientes por frío o coraje.!
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Comment dit-on «Casse-toi riche con» en anglais, en italien ou en allemand? | Slate

Alors que Bernard Arnault vient d'annoncer qu'il porterait plainte contre Libération pour sa une montrant l'homme d'affaires accompagné du texte «Casse-toi riche con», les médias étrangers rapportent l'affaire et, comme à l'époque du «Va te faire enculer, sale fils de pute», de Nicolas Anelka, peinent à la traduction.

Comme le note sur Twitter Alexandre Hervaud, le New Statesman opte pour «Get lost, you rich bastard» (littéralement «fous le camp, riche bâtard»), là où The Blaze lui préfère «F**k off, you wealthy bastard» («barre-toi, bâtard aisé»). On notera également une version douce chez l'International Business Times avec «Get lost, rich idiot», retrouvée également dans la version anglophone de France 24. La version anglaise de RFI est encore plus gentille, choisissant «Get out of here, rich idiot» («va-t-en d'ici, riche idiot»).

Plus proche, à notre sens, de la violence de la version originale française, World Crunch traduit «Get lost, you rich A-hole» («fous le camp, riche trouduc»). Le principal problème est dans le «con»: à la base, le terme désignait le sexe d'une femme, avant de se transformer en insulte. Les anglosaxons ont son équivalent parfait avec «cunt», sauf que ce mot est inenvisageable dans les journaux. «Cunt» est tabou au point d'avoir le droit à son propre euphémisme, le «C word», à l'image du mot «nigger» et le «N word».!
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Translation Guy » “Untranslatable” Gets Lost in Professional Translation

When I hear someone say “untranslatable,” it makes my tail stand on end and get all fluffy like Top Cat with a bone to pick.
Fact! “Untranslatable” screams “amateur,” the smug indulgence of some half-educated second-language speaker who figures that his target language isn’t up to cognitive snuff.
Wrong! Today I take my stand against these pernicious attacks on the professional translator’s ancient and noble profession, the second oldest in the world.
Declaration! Everything can be translated. Professional translators do it all the time.
First check out this cute Google video that’s so got my dander up.!
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Entre Deux Langues

Daily I switch languages — call them masks: At times a mask can feel like your own skin. At other times, the spirit has to struggle, Saved only by the tongue it calls its own. The mysteries of life...!
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Sobre a questão da equivalência em tradução poética¹

O objetivo que se impõe ao presente artigo é o de discutir o referencial da estrita equivalência na avaliação crítica de traduções, para concluir que ele não se mostra o mais adequado à tradução de poesia.
A respeito da conceituação de tradução poética e do que seja “fidelidade” na ação tradutória, considere-se de início um pensamento como aquele elaborado por Haroldo de Campos (por meio de seus artigos sobre “transcriação”)2, que permite ver a tradução de um poema como uma criação de algo novo, com suas próprias “regras” internas, ainda que resulte de um processo de recriação e seja construído de modo a guardar relações de paramorfismo com o texto-fonte. As prescrições tradutórias de uma teorização como essa não determinam, necessariamente, procedimentos sempre idênticos ou uniformes, nem soluções encaminhadas pelas mesmas diretrizes; sendo um processo de criação, envolverá as escolhas do tradutor-criador a cada etapa de seu trabalho, iniciando-se com a eleição, pela leitura, do que considera relevante da “estrutura” do poema a ser “re-produzido”3 e prosseguindo com suas opções de composição e modo de “correspondência” com o texto de que parte. Existirá potencialmente, permitida por uma abordagem como essa, grande flexibilidade no processo de escolhas que levarão a resultados diferentes: abolindo-se uma relação de “servitude” em relação ao “original” – que deixa de ter o peso implícito à noção de equivalência completa, e com o qual o poema traduzido deseja ombrear-se, podendo ser visto como “original do original” –, o poema resultante da tradução será antes construído a partir de princípios e de processos considerados análogos ou correspondentes, do que de obrigações de equivalência palavra a palavra, ou efeito a efeito (sonoro ou imagético).!
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On “Fish Variations” - Words Without Borders

Fish Variations has a very particular phonetic structure that throws up special challenges for the translator. Here are a few comments on these challenges and how I addressed them. Both original poem and translation have seven verses.!
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Des titres de films non traduits

Il y a de cela presque vingt ans maintenant, j’étais allée voir à Nantes le dernier film de Woody Allen sorti à l’époque, proposé sous le titre français de Maudite Aphrodite, alors que le long-métrage était intitulé Mighty Aphrodite en anglais, et je me rappelle que cela avait donné lieu à une discussion entre l’ami qui m’accompagnait et moi. Cet ami, qui avait reçu son instruction primaire dans une école britannique du Moyen-Orient, me soutenait que le titre était mal traduit, car il ne l’était pas littéralement (selon lui, le film aurait dû s’appeler Puissante Aphrodite).Or, je n’étais pas de cet avis, car le titre français rendait très bien compte de la situation du film, dans lequel les affaires de cœur venaient compliquer la situation du héros. Je songe d’ailleurs à plusieurs autres titres de films traduits qui n’avaient rien à voir avec les appellations originales, et qui n’en étaient pas moins très bien trouvés, tels que :

Mademoiselle Gagne-Tout, avec Katharine Hepburn et Spencer Tracy (Pat and Mike en anglais), qui raconte l’histoire d’une jeune femme très douée pour le tennis et pour le golf (je conseille ce film très amusant à tous les pratiquants de ces sports) ;
Un fauteuil pour deux, avec Eddie Murphy (en anglais : Trading Places), tout à fait bien trouvé, même si on n’a pas reproduit en français le jeu de mots avec “trading”, qui fait tout de suite penser à la Bourse) ;
Sueurs froides et La mort aux trousses, d’Alfred Hitchcock (respectivement Vertigo et North by Northwest), de très beaux titres percutants et bien trouvés.

Les exemples de ce type sont nombreux et parlants. Bien sûr, il peut arriver que le titre du film soit traduit littéralement, ce qui peut se révéler très heureux en français aussi : La nuit du chasseur, Un tramway nommé Désir, Le parrain, Quand Harry rencontre Sally, etc. sonnent parfaitement bien en français......!
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Translating the untranslatable

By Kim Chi-Young

I’m working on quite a few translation projects right now. Usually my process is to bang out a rough draft then revisit the work to smooth out the prose and find the correct word to express a certain feeling or idea. Simultaneously, I research to find the right language for the various subcultures depicted in a given novel. Afterward, I take some time to distance myself from the text; I find that it’s hard to catch oddities when I’m too close to my work. I don’t often have these many projects going on at the same time, so it’s a little odd for me to switch back and forth between such disparate tones and styles. To top it all off, I’m at different stages with all of these projects: I’m still at the first-draft phase with one and nearly finished with another, while two others lie in-between.

One aspect of translation is almost always present, no matter what kind of novel I’m working on: the need to translate some untranslatable word or phrase. Take, for example, the Korean phrase “sugohada.” Literally, its meaning is along the lines of “taking the effort to do something difficult,” but its connotation depends on the context. People will say “sugohaseyo” as a way of thanking a cab driver once they exit, or after buying a cut of meat from a butcher. When I returned to Seoul with my toddler, an uncle told me, “sugohaetda.” He wasn’t thanking me; he was acknowledging the effort in giving birth to my daughter and, I guess, raising her. When I was in high school, my grandfather would shake my hand after a final exam and say, “sugohaetda.” So I suppose it’s a way to acknowledge hard work as well as to show thanks or sympathy.!
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Des marques difficiles à traduire

Les noms chinois des sociétés et châteaux français peuvent poser problème. Avec des procès à la clé.!
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Diccionario de lo intraducible: 24 palabras que no tienen equivalente fuera de su idioma

Como los seres vivos que son y en razón de su comportamiento ecosistémico, los lenguajes del mundo poseen palabras únicas, especies endógenas que no poseen equivalente en ningún otro idioma.!
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10 Untranslatable Words (And When You'll Want to Use Them)

English is so limited sometimes. There are so many kickass words in other languages, that describe concepts that we just don't have one word for in English.!
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Comment faire la traduction d’un texte mal rédigé sans se fatiguer ‹ 90 degrés

Traduire l’intraduisible: La traduction à l’aveugle ou l’art de deviner

La capacité à rédiger de façon claire, concise et structurée n’est pas donnée à tout le monde. Et depuis l’adoption massive du Web comme plateforme de communication, plus besoin d’être publié par une maison d’édition pour avoir « pignon sur rue »! Je ne compte plus les billets de blogue, les articles journalistiques et même les sites Web qui m’ont fait saigner des yeux. Mais bon, je ne suis peut-être pas une référence, moi l’ardente défenderesse de la langue française et ma satanée déformation professionnelle qui me fait voir des erreurs partout…!
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La traducción de poesía

Como traductores, sabemos que una de las cosas más difíciles de traducir es la poesía. La rima, la métrica, la cadencia, la escogencia de palabras, el ritmo: podemos pasar semanas enteras intentando traducir un poema corto. Un poema resulta de la combinación única entre ciertas palabras y hace uso de la música de un lenguaje específico. ¿Cómo debemos enfrentar, entonces, la tarea de traducir poesía?!
contenidosambientes's curator insight, October 19, 2015 5:31 PM

traducción de poesía 

Schadenfreude, mon amour

Puisque toute l’Europe parle désormais allemand, apprenons donc un mot : Schadenfreude, qui désigne la joie que provoque le malheur d’autrui. Le mot n’a de traduction dans presque aucune autre langue, au point que toutes ont fini par l’emprunter à l’allemand. Car ce sentiment, lui, n’est évidemment pas l’apanage des Allemands. C’est même celui qui prédomine dans la triste Europe actuelle.!
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Translating Poetry

As translators, we know that one of the hardest things to translate is poetry.Rhyme, meter, cadence, word selection, rhythm: we could spend weeks on end trying to translate one short poem. A poem emerges from the unique combination of select words and makes use of the music of a specific language. How, then, should we face the task of translating poetry?!
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20 awesomely untranslatable words from around the world | Matador Network | Page 2

Grasping the unstranslatable words of a culture can offer unique insight into the way its speakers view and interpret the world.!
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