Off topic: Untranslatable Spanish word on American television show
Thread poster: LegalTransform

LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 15:39
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Feb 13, 2012

On last week's premiere of the television show "The River", the crew was exploring the Amazon. With them was a Spanish monolingual speaker (of course, everyone knows that people in Brazil speak Spanish - insert sarcastic tone here). Most of her dialogue was translated by her father and the rest subtitled in English. At one point in the program, they wanted to go to a certain place in the Amazon and she said in Spanish that they should not go there. When they asked why, she responded what sounded like "es bota". The English subtitles read "It's [Untranslatable]". Does this word mean anything (it's forbidden, it's cursed, it's haunted) or is this just something invented by the show?

 

Diana Coada  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:39
Portuguese to English
+ ...
Well spotted, Jeff Feb 13, 2012

I was wondering the same thing! I've never seen the word ''untranslatable'' used in subtitles before.

Maybe it's a new strategy to deal with cultural references?icon_smile.gif


 

Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 13:39
English to Spanish
+ ...
Unintelligible Feb 13, 2012

"Unintelligible" should be the word. When dealing with recordings, that often happens. It is only untranslatable to the extent that what cannot be understood cannot be translated.

 

neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 21:39
Spanish to English
+ ...
Mumble mumble Feb 14, 2012

Henry Hinds wrote:

"Unintelligible" should be the word. When dealing with recordings, that often happens. It is only untranslatable to the extent that what cannot be understood cannot be translated.


Agree. It could have been anything (explota, es rota, es pota...) and people don't always speak correctly, and often use malapropisms...


 

xxxjacana54  Identity Verified
Uruguay
English to Spanish
+ ...
You might try Feb 14, 2012

asking on the Portuguese>Portuguese section of the Kudoz. Maybe someone will realize that it's a word in that language, or a regional slang expression.

 

Ty Kendall  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:39
Hebrew to English
Plot device for mystery Feb 14, 2012

It's been suggested on other sites that this "untranslatable" is actually an intentional plot device to invoke a sense of mystery (probably using an invented word to make it "untranslatable").

Let's face it, it wouldn't be the first time writers/directors/producers of popular media (with little or no linguistic knowledge) do something linguistically ridiculous in the name of artistic licence which probably goes unnoticed by the vast majority of viewers but annoys linguists no end.

There's a discussion here: http://www.hulu.com/watch/327141/the-river-magus
at the bottom in the discussion area under "Untranslatable?"


[Edited at 2012-02-14 13:39 GMT]


 

LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 15:39
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Untranslatable word Feb 20, 2012

That's for the link Ty. In fact: Someone on Hulu suggested that because of the way the show is designed "we're supposed to be watching reality show footage, after the editing and footage has all been spliced together. Untranslatable just means the fictional producers couldn't make out what she said." That makes sense in the context.

FYI and FWIW: This is my 1000th post on ProZ.


[Edited at 2012-02-20 14:35 GMT]


 


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Untranslatable Spanish word on American television show

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