My favorite comment thread I’ve seen this morning is on a Gizmodo article about the Morbius movie’s end-credits scenes. (The article was published last week.) One commenter wrote: oi vey Another commenter replied: ditto And a third commenter added: oofta I have long thought that oy vey (from Yiddish) and uff da (from Norwegian) were […]
About Pandora’s box, Wikipedia says: The word translated as box was actually a large jar (πίθος pithos) in Greek. […] Many scholars see a close analogy between Pandora herself, who was made from clay, and the clay jar which dispenses evils. The mistranslation of pithos is usually attributed to the 16th century humanist Erasmus who, […]
Every translation, a betrayal.
Every time I see another article breathlessly announcing a new high-tech glove that will “translate” American Sign Language into English, I wonder what that really means, but I’ve neglected to follow up with research. A 2017 article from the Atlantic, “Why Sign-Language Gloves Don't Help Deaf People,” answers my questions; it turns out that all […]
I recently encountered the song title Personent Hodie, so I tried to find out what that phrase meant. Google provided me with Latin lyrics for the song, and helpfully offered to translate them for me. Unfortunately, Google’s translation of Latin lyrics appears to be not yet all it could be. But I was amused enough […]
A friend recently posted (to Facebook) a video of an animal eating something, and added the following text as a commentary/description for the video: MONCH MONCH MONCH Facebook offered to translate that for me. I accepted the offer. Facebook’s translation read as follows: Monch monch monch monch monch monch It then offered to let me […]
I’ve been hearing Ezra Pound’s name for decades, but it recently occurred to me that I didn’t know anything about his life or his poetry. So I went looking online for more information about him, and quickly came across an entertainingly written 1958 takedown of Pound’s and Ernest Fenollosa’s approach to translating Chinese poetry: “Fenollosa, […]
I’ve tried a couple of times to start reading William Gibson’s novel Idoru, but I keep getting too distracted and annoyed by the title to focus on the book. Apparently the title is supposed to represent the Japanese version of the English word idol. But the Japanese word that Gibson intended to refer to, the […]
I just saw an email advertising a “three-day flash sale,” but I misread it as a “three-day fish sale.” Which led me, of course, to Ben Franklin’s saying about fish and guests; that turns out to derive from John Lyly’s 1578 book Euphues: The Anatomy of Wit, which includes the line “fish and guests in […]
Interesting discussion from 2013 of the in-universe etymology of the word hobbit, along with some discussion of differing ideas of how translation should be done.