Translation Problem


A great week for Spiral Cat both the language teaching and translation parts of the business seem to be growing. Our language teaching ideas are just right even for our youngest clients who are learning to sing "The Wheels on the Bus" right now. It's fun and interesting for them and so they learn. ...The crocodile on the bus goes snap, snap, snap...We also had a very interesting translation to do the other day. A client was playing with the idea of meaning and identity by using the word ending ...in. This is common in German speaking countries, when we would say actor/actress needed, Darsteller/in would appear in German. The word was being played with in this way to show some hard to capture philosophical point. The interesting thing was that in English the word could not be elegantly made female with a word ending but instead by jamming the whole word female in front. When one language uses one word and another two is anything lost in the translation between the two. In English we use two words to make the infinitive, e.g. to go, is it OK for Captain Kirk to split the infinitive and "To boldly go where no man has gone before"? Is he being sexist when he uses the word man or is he reflecting the Germanic roots of his language in using man to make indirect speech and making his text sound older more biblical and important? Maybe someone reading a translation wouldn't notice but in an important way that the creator of the text intended maybe they would.

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