tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Wed Mar 16 04:35:45 1994

Back to archive top level

To this year's listing

[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next]

Help, please

>From: [email protected] ("Coz")
>Date: Tue, 15 Mar 1994 17:07:01 -0700 (MST)

>> porgh lI'be' QaQ law' yab qal QaQ puS
>> 	(Can I do lI'be' useless adjectivally? Can adjectival verbs take be'?
>> 	If not, then lI'be'bogh porgh)
>I appreciate the responses I've seen so far, really; I do.  But the above
>translation is *exactly* the kind of thing that *completely* loses the
>meaning of the original idiom.  To translate "Better to be crippled in body
>than corrupt in mind" as "A useless body is more good; a corrupt mind is 
>less good" is to minimalize the statement.  The point is that *niether* of
>these states of being is desirable, but that, if these are the only two choices
>,*then and only then* is one better than the other.

I don't really see that the English implied that at all, syntactically
anyway.  The implication is entirely contextual and pragmatic.  "Better my
gain than his loss" is certainly correct English, and while it doesn't
sound all too common, doesn't sound wrong, nor does it imply that neither
one is desirable.  If you think that the Klingon only means "X is good, Y
ios less good," then it is the "meaning of the idiom" of the Klingon that
you're missing.  The law'/puS construction is the comparative in Klingon,
just like "X-er than..." is the comparative in English.  If you want to
translate idioms, then you have to think idiomatically and come up with
either an equivalent cultural meaning or else do without.  It's quite
reasonable not to find the precise shade of nuance in a foreign language,
hence the expression about "losing something in the translation."  I don't
really see what you feel we're losing, though.

>E.G., Soviet Primier Breshenev, in a speech to th NATO Alliance, once said, 
>"We will bury you."  He was using an idiom.  He did not intend to say, "We
>will kill you and then plant your bodies in the Earth."  He was using the
>idiom to mean, "We will outlive you" or "We will still be around, long after
>you are dead and gone."

OK, then, if you were translating the statement into Gruntese or whatever
your language is, would you rely on their having the same cultural
associations with "burying"?  If they, too, bury their dead as the normal
way of disposal, or maybe have a special word that means "hold funerals
for" or something, then that'd be the way to go.  Otherwise, maybe you
should use whatever they associate with things survivors do to the dead.
If none of that works, you may want to go with "we will outlive you",
losing the literalness for the intent.  Or if you'd rather not do that, or
if you'd rather not say "we will cremate you" or "we will serve you to our
children at the funeral feast" or whatever, you might choose to say "We
will plant you in the ground" and have a footnote saying that that's what
the culture from which the quote came used to do with their dead.
Translating's not a simple task, don't let anyone tell you different.



Back to archive top level