Off topic: The importance of proofreading
Thread poster: Nina Khmielnitzky

Nina Khmielnitzky  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 14:52
Member (2004)
English to French
May 9, 2006

A young monk arrives at the monastery.
He is assigned to helping the other monks in copying the old canons and laws of the church by hand. He notices, however, that all of the monks are copying from copies, not from the original manuscript.

So, the new monk goes to the head abbot to question this, pointing out that if someone made even a small error in the first copy, it would never be picked up.

In fact, that error would be continued in all of the subsequent copies.

The head monk, says, "We have been copying from the copies for centuries, but you make a good point, my son."
So, he goes down into the dark caves underneath the monastery where the original manuscripts are held as archives in a locked vault that hasn't been opened for hundreds of years.

Hours go by and nobody sees the old abbot.
So, the young monk gets worried and goes down to look for him. He sees him banging his head against the wall and wailing, "We missed the "R", we missed the "R".

His forehead is all bruised and he is crying uncontrollably. The young monk asks the old abbot, "What's wrong, father?"

With a choking voice, the old abbot replies,

"The word was celebrate."


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Kevin Kelly  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:52
Member (2005)
Russian to English
+ ...
Wonderful story... May 9, 2006

I've heard several versions of it, but they are all wonderful.

I wonder if there are any translation geniuses out there who could convey the same humor in a translation into some language other than English. This is a practical question, since as an interpreter I am often called upon to translate jokes that seem to be untranslatable. Usually when I encounter this situation I try to subsitute some other joke, but this is not always possible and the end result is often a poor substitute.

So much humor is based on word play. The bane of the translator/interpreter!


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Rafa Lombardino
United States
Local time: 11:52
Member (2005)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Portuguese... May 9, 2006

Kevin Kelly wrote:

I wonder if there are any translation geniuses out there who could convey the same humor in a translation into some language other than English.


In Portuguese, it would have been more than just the "R":

- Celibato = celibate
- Celebrado = celebrate



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Andy Watkinson
Spain
Local time: 20:52
Member
Catalan to English
+ ...
Not just in Portuguese, Rafa... May 9, 2006

Rafa Lombardino wrote:

In Portuguese, it would have been more than just the "R":

- Celibato = celibate
- Celebrado = celebrate



"Celebate", to the best of my knowledge, doesn't exist.

It's "celibate".

Andy


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M. Anna Kańduła  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:52
English to Polish
Similar in Polish May 9, 2006

Polish version says:

With the "R" (correct)
Żyj w celi, bracie (live in a cell, bother)
Without "," and "R" (error in a copy)
Żyj w celibacie (live in a celibate)

Of course it sounds the best when spoken (the "," doesn't "show up" then).



Anni


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Aisha Maniar  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:52
Member (2003)
Arabic to English
+ ...
Asterix... May 9, 2006

Kevin Kelly wrote:

I've heard several versions of it, but they are all wonderful.

I wonder if there are any translation geniuses out there who could convey the same humor in a translation into some language other than English. This is a practical question, since as an interpreter I am often called upon to translate jokes that seem to be untranslatable. Usually when I encounter this situation I try to subsitute some other joke, but this is not always possible and the end result is often a poor substitute.

So much humor is based on word play. The bane of the translator/interpreter!


I've always admired translators who are able to translate humour; I think it's a great skill. The English translation of Asterix is a wonderful point in hand (as are articles written about the translation techniques involved)!
Humour is so culture-bound that more often than not it doesn't filter through oral or written translation. Nonetheless, humour is also specific - even within a group of speakers of the same language, it can be difficult to get a joke aimed at a particular age/professional/social group or people from a certain geographic area.
I suppose that as long as you've got a sense of humour in the first place ...

[Edited at 2006-05-09 21:22]


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Nina Khmielnitzky  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 14:52
Member (2004)
English to French
TOPIC STARTER
I had an adaptation class once May 9, 2006

and the thing that I remember best was this joke, translated in French:

What is grey and sings? Harry Elefante
in French:
Qu'est-ce qui est gris et qui chante? Nana Masouris

Nina


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Matthias Quaschning-Kirsch  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 20:52
Member (2006)
Swedish to German
+ ...
Helmut Kohl, Hamlet May 10, 2006

Our former Federal Chancellor Helmut Kohl really was no genius in English. Here is just one example:

Reagan, Mrs. Thatcher and Kohl go to Moskva for consultations with Gorbatchev. The plane is late. Reagan comes out first and apologizes: "I'm sorry, Mr. Gotbatcvhev." Next is Thatcher: "I'm sorry, too." Last not least Kohl: "I'm sorry sree."

Matthias


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Can Altinbay  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:52
Japanese to English
+ ...
Ouch (for both) :-) May 10, 2006

Nina Khmielnitzky wrote:

and the thing that I remember best was this joke, translated in French:

What is grey and sings? Harry Elefante
in French:
Qu'est-ce qui est gris et qui chante? Nana Masouris

Nina


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Ingeborg Gowans  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 15:52
Member (2006)
English to German
+ ...
that's hilarious, it would have saved a lot of agony, eh? May 15, 2006

Nina Khmielnitzky wrote:

A young monk arrives at the monastery.
He is assigned to helping the other monks in copying the old canons and laws of the church by hand. He notices, however, that all of the monks are copying from copies, not from the original manuscript.

So, the new monk goes to the head abbot to question this, pointing out that if someone made even a small error in the first copy, it would never be picked up.

In fact, that error would be continued in all of the subsequent copies.

The head monk, says, "We have been copying from the copies for centuries, but you make a good point, my son."
So, he goes down into the dark caves underneath the monastery where the original manuscripts are held as archives in a locked vault that hasn't been opened for hundreds of years.

Hours go by and nobody sees the old abbot.
So, the young monk gets worried and goes down to look for him. He sees him banging his head against the wall and wailing, "We missed the "R", we missed the "R".

His forehead is all bruised and he is crying uncontrollably. The young monk asks the old abbot, "What's wrong, father?"

With a choking voice, the old abbot replies,

"The word was celebrate."


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Jennifer Gal  Identity Verified
Hungary
Local time: 20:52
Hungarian to English
+ ...
Swedish>English mistranslation/funny May 17, 2006

I once read a mistranslation of a sign from Swedish to English, posted in a hotel:

No having babies in the lobby!

No too hard to see how the error came about - but it came out pretty amusingly.

Jen Gal


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