Need help - nonsense words
Thread poster: Palko Agi
Palko Agi  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:58
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Mar 7, 2003

Can anyone recommend some good source, articles etc about nonsense words: do we translate them or not, if yes, how, etc?



I am translating a novel that has a lot of these words in it as words of a fictious language. Their meaning is sometimes clear, sometimes not. I don\'t even know how they would sound pronounced by an English reader.

Any suggestions?



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Jacek Krankowski  Identity Verified
English to Polish
+ ...
Hi Bence Mar 7, 2003

We, translators, take pride in being open to the surronding world, even if some business people try to persuade us that we are ONLY translators and thus should censor certain interests or experiences. If you want to successfully deal with nonsense words (but also nonsense worlds), you have to absorb as

much as possible and interact as much as possible with the world. I recommend James Joyce\'s \"Ulysses\" for a reading, possibly in translation. Cf.:



\"What clashes here of will gents wonts, oystrygods gaggin fishgods! Brekkek Kekkek Kekkek Kekkek! Koax Koax koax! Uala Uala Uala! Quaouauh! Where the Baddelaries partisans are still out to mathmaster Malachus Micgranes and the Verdons catapelting the camibalistics out of the Mhoyteboyce of Hoodie Head. Assiegates and boomerinstroms. Sod\'s brood, be me fear! Sanglorians, save! Arms apeal with larms, appalling. Killykillkilly; a tol, a toll. What chance cuddleys, what cashels aired and ventilised!



As every student of Joyce knows, these are not nonsense words. On the contrary, they all have meaning. The first quotation contains a multilingual word for thunder, being the celestial cry during the fall of HCE (HERE COMES EVERYBODY; the protean hero of the story); and the second describes the

tumult of primitive and historic battles fought around the hero.



Joyce himself, a music-lover and singer of great talent and who, as a result of increasingly poor vision, came to possess a correspondingly sensitive ear, was always conscious of the relations of music to language. The theme of the singing, prattling River Liffey is a constant transcription of sounds in Finnegans Wake. The ever-changing Heraclitean flow denotes in musical melodies and atonalities a hundred world rivers: the Mississippi, the Nile, the Ganges, the Rhine, the Irrawaddy... and being in Vico\'s sense the

cyclical symbol of time-space (riverrun) it characterizes the fluidity of the art of music. The motif of erotic music is also indicated in an early passage beginning: \"Sir Tristam violer d\'amores, fr\'over the short sea, had passencore rearrived from North Amorica...\", while the motif of discord and conflict is constantly translated in sound-words through the description of the antithesis between Mutt and Jute, Shem and Shaun, and especially between those two characters Joyce himself used to chuckle over while writing the

book: Buckley and the Russian General. But throughout, there are constant musical projections, as in the section he once called \"Mime of Mick, Nick and the Maggies\"[2], where we read: ...for Wold Forrester Farley who was found of the round of the sound of t he lound of the

Lukkedoerendunandurraskewdylooshoofermoyportertooyzooys-

pnalnalnabortansakroidverjkapakkapuk

Byfall

Upploud!

....

Ha he hi ho hu.

Mummum.



This is a repetition of Vico\'s thunder-motif. HCE slams the door, and the singing children of the household suddenly grow silent. The sonorities of numerous world languages can be traced throughout Finnegans Wake.\"

http://faculty-web.at.northwestern.edu/german/rumold/transitionweb/Jolas%20A

rticles/From%20Jabberwocky%20to%20Lettrism.htm



Good luck!







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sfjames  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:58
Member (2006)
Lao to English
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Collaborate! Mar 7, 2003

Hi, Bence.



I suggest you find a native speaker of English (not necessarily a translator, maybe just a friend) to read the passage aloud, and perhaps to comment on any meaning that\'s not apparent on the surface. The best person would be of the same nationality as the author of your source material.


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Jack Doughty  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 15:58
Member (2000)
Russian to English
+ ...
Yes, collaborate! Mar 7, 2003

Agree with sfjames.

The nonsense words may convey something to a native speaker that would not readily be apparent to one who is not.



There is an example in the Spanish forum at

http://www.proz.com/?sp=bb/viewtopic&post=30517#30517

namely Lewis Carroll\'s \"Jabberwocky\" and a translation of it into Danish.


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PAS  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:58
English to Polish
+ ...
some musings Mar 8, 2003

When I read Frank Herbert\'s \"Dune\" for the first time, it was a revelation when I discovered (by myself, with no \"external\" help) that many words he used were Arabic in origin - the \"Fremen cry of grief\" - \'la, la, la\', simply means \'no\' in Arabic.



Then I found out in \"The Lord of the Rings\" that in the Dwarven name of Khazad Dum \'Dum\' means \'house\' in Czech.



The Polish writer Stanislaw Lem made up hundreds of new words - names of animals, things etc. In Polish, they sometimes sound like things you know and sometimes they don\'t. Lem\'s books have been translated with more or less success into many other languages.



My poet friend once translated dialogues for a children\'s cartoon in which characters\' names (in English) were descriptive, but they were not real names. We talked about the names and came up with their \"analogues\" in Polish, but they were not literal translations of the original.



Punchline: if you are reasonably sure the word is pure nonsense and does not sound/associate/mean anything, make up your own.

If you discover that it is similar in meaning/sound/description to another word/term in the source language, make up an \"analogue\" in the target language.



This is unqualified advice and maybe some will disagree, but in the end, the novel must read well in the target language.

Isn\'t this so?



Pawel Skalinski





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Palko Agi  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:58
English to Hungarian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you Mar 10, 2003

all for your very interesting and usefull comments. Of course, I will contact native speakers and ask for their opinion, I am even considering writing to the author. (Is it a common thing to do? I have never done this before.)



What I am still looking for is some theoretical musings about this segment of translation, writings of translators who had met this problem, analysys of translations etc. If you have read something on this topic, pls. let me know where...

Thanks again.

Agi


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Odette Grille  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 10:58
English to French
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Contact the author Aug 10, 2003

Bence Ági wrote:

all for your very interesting and usefull comments. Of course, I will contact native speakers and ask for their opinion, I am even considering writing to the author. (Is it a common thing to do? I have never done this before.)

What I am still looking for is some theoretical musings about this segment of translation, writings of translators who had met this problem, analysys of translations etc. If you have read something on this topic, pls. let me know where...
Thanks again.
Agi

Of course, if you can you should not hesitate to contact the author. If only to save time ! It is also very useful to get that special intuitive feeling that comes from knowing someone (somewhat...). I get very frustrated when I have to guess what an author meant and cannot ask. Lucky are we translators when we can.


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Ulvija Tanovic
Local time: 16:58
English to Bosnian
+ ...
harry potter Sep 4, 2003

harry potter books are a good example where a whole lot of translators had to deal with a whole lot of made-up words.

I'm sure harry potter has been translated into hungarian (is this the language you're working with?), so you may find it useful to compare the translation and the original.


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