tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Wed Apr 17 20:22:21 2002

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Re: Sean's Translations

lab Sean:

 > At 23:41 2002-04-16 -0700, Qov wrote:
 > >In about 1994 someone decided to post a list of translated bumper sticker
 > >slogans.
 > > How dare she! Oh wait, that's actually something one of my old French
 > > teachers had us do once, and it was a wonderfully instructive 
exercise. So:
 > > How dare my French teacher try to teach you anything about language
 > > pedagogy! Crush her!

It's difficult to determine the intended tone of this message without 
hearing the tone of your voice.  I'm going to interpret it as you arguing 
that translating bumper sticker slogans would be an excellent way to learn 
Klingon, so I'm going to explain why it isn't, even if it worked well in 
French class.

Firstly, French-speaking people and English-speaking people live on the 
same planet.  They both have vocabulary and cultural experience covering 
much of the same things.  Klingon doesn't have the same context.  This 
isn't a problem in most prose, because we just explain what we're talking 
about, but bumper stickers typically depend on clever brevity, double 
entendre and cultural context, to say much by saying little.

"Don't laugh lady, your daughter might be in here" is easily translated 
into Klingon or French, but are Klingon parents hung up on the virginity of 
their daughters?

"Ban the unborn gay whales for Jesus" mocks other bumper stickers. There is 
probably a French equivalent, but the reader has to know what the French 
equivalents to the other bumper stickers are, in order to get it.  I don't, 
perhaps you do, but none of us knows what bumper stickers are ubiquitous on 
Klingon ground vehicles.  They'd better be pretty wide vehicles if they're 
to carry stickers reading: "Consider the large sea animals that breath air 
and that are not yet born and prefer males if they are male: cause them to 
be made illegal in order to glorify Kahless"

"Dyslexics of the world, Untie!" depends on knowledge of a Marxist slogan, 
a concept of dyslexia, and the existence of a existing word that is a 
scrambled form of "unite."  The original Marxist slogan is well known in 
most modern languages, but to the best of our knowledge there are no 
Klingon fellow travellers. There are a few Klingonists who could recast 
this bumper sticker to work with a tlhIngan vIttlhegh, but it would be a 
completely different bumper sticker, not a translation.

[Ooh, while trying to devise examples, I've just come up with a rude 
macaronic (French/English) rebus: it's a picture of a seal and then a 
picture of a sheep.  Get it?]

How about "Straight but not Narrow"?  Translate that into French for me.

Even the boring bumper stickers have corresponding equivalents in French, 
rather than direct translations. "Johnson 2002" "No to 437" "Go Rams"

In terms of language pedagogy, I would think it would have to be quite an 
advanced French class to use this as a useful exercise, because bumper 
stickers commonly use sexual innuendo and other slang not usually known to 
beginning students.  The skills required to write a grammatical sentence 
are different from, and would in general precede, those required to write a 
slogan.  What did you actually learn from the French exercise?

The crux of the issue is that slogans depend on familiar things: issues, 
catchphrases, local knowledge, and things familiar to Klingons are 
different from things familiar to us.

The message I am replying to came across as dismissive of me and 
uninterested in my advice, but as I ssid, it was hard to judge.  If I read 
this tone in error, and you would like some exercises in Klingon, from a 
somewhat experienced Klingon language instructor, let me know.

Qov 'utlh

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