16 June 2010

Less exciting than it sounds

I was talking to my sister the other day and mentioned that my main reading currently is The Translation Studies Reader. She looked unimpressed, and I should have added "and it's not as exciting as you may think".

I started reading the piece by Shoshana Blum-Kulka on "Shifts of coherence and cohesion in translation" and found this first example. The source language reads "Marie was helping Jimmy climb the biggest branch of the tree in the front yard ...", and the translation is "Marie était en train d'aider Jimmy à grimper sur la plus haute branche de l'arbre ..." . Blum-Kalka's point is that the French text is more explicit and has more redundancy but she doesn't seem to notice the factual mistranslation. Translating back, the French reads "Marie was helping Jimmy climb the highest branch of the tree".

It's not her translation, I should point out, but surely she should have chosen better. This missed detail has, frankly, damaged my respect for anything she says. So, exciting as the article may be, I'm leaving it there.

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