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Chekhov story: what's Crown Department?
Thread poster: classiq

classiq
English to Tamil
Aug 12, 2003

Folks,

I apologize if this is off-topic, but this is serious stuff.

I'm in the process of translating Chekhov's short story 'Lady With a Lapdog', from English to Tamil.

I came across a phrase 'Crown Department' in the story. Could you please tell me what was the purpose of this organization? I can give a semi-literal translation for this, but I don't want to do it, and would like to explain it in a footnote, with your help.

Thanks!

Diwakar


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xxxIreneN
United States
Local time: 08:55
English to Russian
+ ...
Please give the whole sentence Aug 12, 2003

but I'll start with guessing first.

I re-read the story in Russian and the only line I could think of was the scene in the theater where Gurov observes different people dressed indicative of their profession or trade. In tzarist Russia clerks were wearing such uniforms identifying them with certain departments. Is it correct? If so, then we are talking about the department in charge of state property - lands, factories, railroads and in the time of slavery in Russia - peasants owned by the government as opposite to private landowners.

This is something like Department of Government Economic Affairs. Probably, the name of the department was translated into British English to make it sound like "crown property" because the idea is pretty close.

I hope it helped.

In case you ask why I wrote "something like" instead of the exact translation from Russian - because the original name is obsolete, it has no one-word analogs. It was gone together with the monarchy and now I can only suggest a transliteration ("udel'ny" from Russian "udel" - large piece of land owned and goverened by Russian prince in the early Middle Ages when Russia consisted of numerous principalities, or a descriptive translation.

[Edited at 2003-08-12 13:47]


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Narasimhan Raghavan  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:25
English to Tamil
+ ...
Translating into Tamil? Aug 12, 2003

I can suggest the Tamil word for you. Try "Aranmanai Vaarium" or "Arasu vaarium". Kindly complete your profile. All the beast.

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xxxxeni
English to Russian
+ ...
A question instead of an answer, sorry Aug 12, 2003

Why are you translating a Chekhov's story from ENGLISH? Kind of odd, isn't it?

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Narasimhan Raghavan  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:25
English to Tamil
+ ...
It is a fact of life Aug 12, 2003

It is a fact of life. In this case the translation is done into Tamil. A person like myself with Tamil as the mother tongue is more likely to know English than Russian, as due to historical reasons English has been India's official language for a long time. So the usual route is taking the English version of the world classics and translating them into Indian languages.

For example, the German versions of the works of the Hebrew writer Ephraim Kishon are all translated from the English translation of the Hebrew original.

If you reflect there is nothing odd but only a fact of life.

xeni wrote:

Why are you translating a Chekhov's story from ENGLISH? Kind of odd, isn't it?


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xxxxeni
English to Russian
+ ...
Yes, a fact of life.... Aug 13, 2003

Narasimhan Raghavan wrote:

If you reflect there is nothing odd but only a fact of life.



OK, it's a fact of life. I would agree to that. Just do not expect the works of Chekhov, or any other non-English writer for that matter, to be the same as they wrote them in their native language.

And this is a fact of life too


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Narasimhan Raghavan  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:25
English to Tamil
+ ...
A few words more-Friedrich Torberg Aug 13, 2003

Things are not so black and white. Let me explain. Of the German translations of his books by Friedrich Torberg, the Israeli author Ephraim Kishon said that they sound exactly as if he himself has written them originally in German. By the way this Israeli author is very fluent in German too among other things and he knows what he is talking about. No translator can hope to get a better praise for his labors and Friedrich Torberg got it for his translation from the English version of the Hebrew original.
Similarly in our Tamil language too there are very good translators, like Raa.Ki. Rangarajan, whose translation from the English version of the French book Papillon by Henri Charriere is a legend. I agree with you that Chekov is a phenomenon and is difficult to render in another language. It also depends on the quality of the English version.

xeni wrote:

Narasimhan Raghavan wrote:

If you reflect there is nothing odd but only a fact of life.



OK, it's a fact of life. I would agree to that. Just do not expect the works of Chekhov, or any other non-English writer for that matter, to be the same as they wrote them in their native language.

And this is a fact of life too


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classiq
English to Tamil
TOPIC STARTER
That helped! Aug 13, 2003

Thanks for sparing time to reply.

The complete sentence from Constance Garnett's translation: "She was not sure whether her husband had a post in a Crown Department or under the Provincial Council -- and was amused by her own ignorance."

Now I think you might have a different answer for this question. The Tamil translation of these words could be something close to them, but the information about the Crown Department should be accurate. Now the complete sentence might of use, I hope.

Thanks!
Diwakar


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classiq
English to Tamil
TOPIC STARTER
I thought of "raajaangath thurai" first Aug 13, 2003

Thanks for you help. Isn't 'thurai' the equivalent for 'department'? 'Vaarium' is mostly used for 'board', as you know - Electricity Board: Minsaara Vaarium...

Thanks again!
Diwakar

Narasimhan Raghavan wrote:

I can suggest the Tamil word for you. Try "Aranmanai Vaarium" or "Arasu vaarium". Kindly complete your profile. All the beast.


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classiq
English to Tamil
TOPIC STARTER
Yes, it's odd, but... Aug 13, 2003

I'm glad you asked that, because it relieves me of the 'guilt' of translating a non-English text from English.

I personally believe that non-English literary texts must not be translated from English. But this is strictly business. And this is more like re-telling rather than translation.

Diwakar

xeni wrote:

Why are you translating a Chekhov's story from ENGLISH? Kind of odd, isn't it?


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Vladimir Dubisskiy  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:55
English to Russian
+ ...
just guessing Aug 13, 2003

Wouldn't be better then to find somebody who knows Tamil and Russian and try the original? I bet it may bring better results at least with Russian classics. Or try to get such person for editing..


[quote]Narasimhan Raghavan wrote:

It is a fact of life. In this case the translation is done into Tamil. A person like myself with Tamil as the mother tongue is more likely to know English than Russian, as due to historical reasons English has been India's official language for a long time.


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Jean-Luc Dumont  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 15:55
English to French
+ ...
My two kopecks Aug 13, 2003

Hi

I understand the "fact-of-life" circumstance bit. Vladimir has a good point : you could use someone who speaks Russian for the editing or "consulting" ; one who could go back to orginal version when needed.

Crown department in English often refers to tax administration. Here it would be good to find what is the exact Russian word used in original version (It is at the beginning of story). I undertand the whole book is to be translated from English - but when in doubt, nothing like going to the original word.
It could be very different from "Crown department" although this seems to be the most used version on the internet, it sounds awkward to me.
I found 4 different versions/renditions/translations in English for the same sentence.

1)
Anna Sergeyevna isn’t even sure exactly what her husband does for a living, except to say that he “was a member of a Government Board or served on a Zemstvo Council”.

2)
And from her he learned that she had grown up in Petersburg, but had gotten married in the town of S., where she had been living two years, that she would stay another month in Yalta, and that perhaps her husband, who also needed a rest, would join her. She was quite unable to explain whether her husband was a member of the province council, or on the board of the zemstvo, and was greatly amused at herself for this. Further, Gurov learned that her name was Anna Sergeyevna.


3)
And from her he learnt that she had grown up in Petersburg, but had lived in S---- since her marriage two years before, that she was staying another month in Yalta, and that her husband, who needed a holiday too, might perhaps come and fetch her. She was not sure whether her husband had a post in a Crown Department or under the Provincial Council -- and was amused by her own ignorance. And Gurov learnt, too, that she was called Anna Sergeyevna.

4) Play adaptation

ANNA His work.
GUROV What's his work?
ANNA He's a clerical officer in the office of the district council - I'm wrong - in the municipal office. (Laughs) One or the other. Isn't it awful - I'm never sure which.
GUROV Shame on you. Anyhow, if he comes before I leave, we'll have to bring him up here.
ANNA You're leaving tomorrow, aren't you?


What was a zemstvo?


(z mst´v ) (KEY) [Rus., from zemlya=land], local assembly that functioned as a body of provincial self-government in Russia from 1864 to 1917. The introduction of the zemstvo system was one of the major liberal reforms in the reign of Alexander II. Each district elected representatives, who had control over education, public health, roads, and aid to agriculture and commerce. The district zemstvos elected executive committees and delegates to the provincial assemblies, which in turn elected an executive committee for the province. A similar system was introduced (1870) for town governments. Representation in the zemstvo was proportional to land ownership, and the electorate was divided into three groups—private landowners, urban population, and peasant communes. Although landowners predominated over the peasants and townspeople under the electoral system, the zemstvos accomplished imposing progress in the fields of education and health within the half century of their existence. The zemstvo was the stronghold of the Russian liberals and constitutionalists, who after the February Revolution of 1917 democratized the electoral system and sought to make the zemstvos the basis of the new regime. When the Bolsheviks came to power in Nov., 1917 (Oct., 1917, O.S.), the functions of the zemstvo were taken over by the soviet

Jean-Luc

[Edited at 2003-08-13 07:49]


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classiq
English to Tamil
TOPIC STARTER
A solution for the 'fact of life' issue Aug 13, 2003

Thanks Vladimir. I've settled for 'tax administration department'.

As for the fact-of-life issue, I'm curious if this idea would work - for example, I can translate from English, want to translate Dostoyevsky's The Gambler, but I don't know Russian. The solution: I translate it from English into Tamil, then give a Russian literary translation expert my Tamil translation of The Gambler and the original Russian version, so that he can compare the two versions, using the English version (which I used for translation) for reference and point out and correct mistranslations.

I'd like to use this for other languages too. But do you think it's possible?


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classiq
English to Tamil
TOPIC STARTER
Tax administration will do Aug 13, 2003

Thanks a ton, Jean-Luc. The info about Crown Department and Zemstvo was very useful.

Diwakar


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Jean-Luc Dumont  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 15:55
English to French
+ ...
Attention Aug 13, 2003

classiq:

I did not say that tax administration was a good translation in English - on the contrary - I meant it could be misleading. I said Crown department can be associated witrh a Tax department - which may not be the case at all - depending on what Russian word is used in the original text.

If "Anna" is confused by the Zemstvo system, it may be term related to the Zemstvo organization (district council or assembly) and have nothing to do with the Crown or Taxes, for that matter...

JL


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