Hi, Klingon linguists! I need help translating a line from the Eagles’ ‘Hotel California’ into Klingon. The line is:
“You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.”
I’ve been attempting to translate this myself using online tools such as Bing, but the concept of “checking out” of a hotel is not straightforward to translate using those kinds of tools. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
First, don’t use Bing (or anything that uses Bing or claims to do online translations) as all it makes is gibberish.
Second, we do have a way to say “check-out” in Klingon, as there’s a line in Power Klingon that covers it:
Check-out time is five a.m.
vagh rep bImejnIS.
Unfortunately, this literally means “You need to leave at five hour” so for a Klingon “checking out” and “leaving” are the same thing. This will make the line in the song almost impossible to translate into some kind of meaningful sentence without reworking it into something else.
However, the phrase “check out” in the song lyric doesn’t just refer to vacating one’s room and paying the bill, it also has lots of other meanings within in the culture being described by the song including “die”, “zone out”, “get messed up on drugs”, “become brain-dead”, etc. All of that will be lost in translation if you translate it literally.
Song translations are very hard to do well, I know (I’ve had several Klingon translations of songs performed and released by the Klingon Pop Warrior). Much of the translation comes down to the meaning you, as the translator, want the listener to hear. There’s often no right way to do it.