30 votes
Accepted

How did Leo Tolstoy approve Maude's English translation of War and Peace? Did he speak good English already?

Tolstoy was born into the Russian aristocracy and thus had the benefit of paid tuition as a young man. He was interested in languages and so, given the opportunity to learn them, he did. In fact he ...
Matt Thrower's user avatar
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18 votes
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Chilli peppers in fifteenth-century India?

This is an error introduced by the translator. The original Portuguese text says: Sabei que estais na Índia, onde se estende Diverso povo, rico e prosperado De ouro luzente e fina pedraria, Cheiro ...
verbose's user avatar
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17 votes
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Why don't these lines rhyme in Les Miserables?

That wouldn't follow the rhyme scheme of the other verses, which follow the scheme ABCC. The next verse is: There is a lady all in white, Holds me and sings a lullaby, She's nice to see and she'...
Joshua Engel's user avatar
  • 5,098
16 votes

Why does Aphrodite speak like this while disguised as the old woman?

TL;DR: Aphrodite has disguised herself as a worker in wool, an occupation which Rouse stereotypes as northern English. Aphrodite’s speech here is book III, lines 390–394: δεῦρ᾽ ἴθ᾽: Ἀλέξανδρός σε ...
Gareth Rees's user avatar
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15 votes

Understanding the use of the word "Negress" in the Kilmartin and Cox translation of Solaris

Native speaker here. The most important part that was lost in translation was the rhythm of the prose. Lem's texts at all times have a quality similar to that of a blank verse. Sadly, I think it would ...
kubanczyk's user avatar
  • 251
15 votes
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What are the challenges in translating a work of literature?

Many works of literature derive a lot of value from implied context. Cultural norms. Idioms. Insider jokes. This is especially a big factor in a book which contains elements of humor (especially ...
DVK's user avatar
  • 4,585
15 votes
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Translation: Why are parts of the original language kept?

The purpose of keeping parts of the source langue no-translated, or using some variant or dialect of the target language for some elements (eg: dialog, a specific character talk, ...), depends on the ...
yaitloutou's user avatar
13 votes

In Foucault's Pendulum, by what method does the translation choose to keep or translate Italian?

First, it's not true to assume that all foreign bits in Foucault's Pendulum were left untranslated in the English version: However, Latin is more familiar to Italian, French, Spanish, Portuguese,...
VicAche's user avatar
  • 1,908
13 votes
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Meaning of the "quips" from Bulgakov's The Master and Margarita

Here is the same paragraph in Russian: Произошло подсчитывание, пересыпаемое шуточками и прибаутками Коровьева, вроде «денежка счет любит», «свой глазок — смотрок» и прочего такого же." [link] ...
tum_'s user avatar
  • 1,150
13 votes
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Names in The Water Margin

Wu Song‘s name is not an anomaly. His family name is “Wu”, from the word 武 —wǔ (pronunciation with low tone)— which refers to fighting, martial arts and bravery. For further confirmation, Wu Song has ...
Segorian's user avatar
  • 784
12 votes

Does a translation editor need to know the language of the source document?

Some context: I recently did a job as a proofreader for a translated document. This quickly turned into editing, which in turn turned into mostly re-translating. That's what most of this based on. ...
Mithical's user avatar
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12 votes
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Why has this Premchand story been translated as both "Catastrophe" and "A Positive Change"?

The Hindi title "विध्वंस" (transliterated as "Vidhwans") means "catastrophe" or "destruction". I am not too familiar with Urdu, but Google Translate says that &...
Namaskaram's user avatar
12 votes
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What was Koestler's opinion of Hardy's translation of Darkness at Noon?

Koestler wrote Darkness at Noon while he was living in France with Hardy, who was his lover. Koestler was fluent in English, which he taught himself as a young man and indeed in later life he stopped ...
Matt Thrower's user avatar
  • 22.3k
12 votes

How did Leo Tolstoy approve Maude's English translation of War and Peace? Did he speak good English already?

In his critique of Shakespeare, Tolstoy wrote: For a long time I could not believe in myself, and during fifty years, in order to test myself, I several times recommenced reading Shakespeare in every ...
Alex's user avatar
  • 3,419
11 votes
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Did Isaac Bashevis Singer write only in Yiddish, or also in English?

I believe he translated at least some of his works into English himself: In most cases, Singer published a story in the Yiddish press, and then used tear sheets or clippings to translate it into ...
auden's user avatar
  • 4,742
11 votes
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Harry Potter German translation - use of word "Eingeweide"

The first example in Der Orden des Phönix seems to be Solch wilde Gedanken wirbelten durch Harrys Kopf, und seine Eingeweide verknoteten sich vor Zorn The original English is These ...
Juhasz's user avatar
  • 675
11 votes
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What does "branch of Ares" mean in book II of "The Iliad"?

“Branch of Ares” is a literal translation of “ὄζος Ἄρηος”, for example in the passage quoted in the question: οὐκ οἶος, ἅμα τῷ γε Λεοντεὺς ὄζος Ἄρηος υἱὸς ὑπερθύμοιο Κορώνου Καινεΐδαο: τοῖς δ᾽ ἅμα ...
Gareth Rees's user avatar
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10 votes
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What word was used for "anisotropic" in the original Russian text of "Hard to Be a God"?

The original Russian version does not use any made-up or composite word for "anisotropic". "Anisotropic" is a real world present in English language; it is used in science, as well as technology. ...
Gallifreyan's user avatar
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10 votes
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Should this word in Hard to Be a God be translated as "arbalest" or "crossbow"?

We don't know whether it was an arbalest or a crossbow. To quote (for the lack of a better source) Wikipedia: A large weapon, the arbalest had a steel prod ("bow"). Emphasis mine Taking ...
Gallifreyan's user avatar
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10 votes
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Has the Maltese poem "Fuq Għoljiet Dingli" ("On Dingli Cliffs") by Victor Fenech been ever translated into any other language?

The Dingli Cliffs poem is mine; it was first published in Maltese in the book 'Analizi 70' and much later in English in 2017 in the book 'Journey' together with a drawing of the place by a very ...
Victor Fenech's user avatar
10 votes
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Why is this line about prophecy in book 2 of the Odyssey thought to be "spurious"?

The possibly spurious line is 2.191: πρῆξαι δ᾽ ἔμπης οὔ τι δυνήσεται εἵνεκα τῶνδε: and he will in no case be able to do aught because of these men here Homer. Odyssey 2.191. Translated by A. T. ...
Gareth Rees's user avatar
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9 votes

Why do translations of the line "Now have I told you soothly in a clause" ignore the word soothly?

Many renditions of the original English text use the word "shortly" instead of "soothly". For example, this version from Librarius: Now have I toold you shortly in a clause, Th'estaat, th'...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
  • 72.6k
9 votes

Why is "pensión" left untranslated in "The Shadow of the Wind"?

As Cascabel rightly says, there is no direct equivalent to a Pension in Britain - in terms of the particular facilities provided. As mentioned, this is not the only work in which Pension is not ...
Chenmunka's user avatar
  • 2,307
9 votes
Accepted

How much "self-editing" did Nabokov do when his Russian novels were translated into English?

Nabokov sometimes used translations into English as an opportunity to touch up his work, but sometimes he didn't. Below are a few case studies. Maybe the best example of Nabokov making changes is ...
DyingIsFun's user avatar
  • 1,104
9 votes

How can the inscription on AURYN be interpreted?

TL; DR: There is an ambiguity, intended by the author, between "do what you wish" and "find your true will" which is important for the development of the main character Bastian. Long answer: To ...
wra's user avatar
  • 191
9 votes

Why was "Notre Dame de Paris" changed from "Notre Dame of Paris" to "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" when it was re-published in English?

In Recomposing the Past: Representations of Early Music on Stage and Screen, it's claimed that: The original title of Hugo's work was Notre Dame de Paris, making no mention of the disfigurement of ...
muru's user avatar
  • 6,940
9 votes
Accepted

What Kanji startles Otoko so much?

As someone currently in possession of a Japanese-language edition of 美しさと哀しみと, I can confirm that the relevant kanji is 「思」 (omo). The section reads: 音子は手紙を書いていて国語辞書を開くと、そのペェジの 「思う」 という字が目についた。日木語の「...
bobble's user avatar
  • 9,794
9 votes

Who translated the 1995 Penguin Popular Classics version of "The Phantom of the Opera"?

TLDR: The original translation was a work for hire, and so did not have the translator's name in it. When Penguin Classics reprinted it, they did not bother to add the translator's name. The 1911 ...
Peter Shor's user avatar
  • 12.5k
9 votes

Who translated the 1995 Penguin Popular Classics version of "The Phantom of the Opera"?

According to the Phantompedia Wiki, there are five English translations of Le Fantôme de l'Opéra: one by the Dutch-English journalist, literary critic and translator Alexander Teixeira de Mattos ...
Tsundoku's user avatar
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