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11:06 Feb 6, 2012
Spanish to English translations [Non-PRO] Art/Literary - Poetry & Literature / a novel
Spanish term or phrase:contra tiempo y marea
I'm certain there's an expression in English with the same meaning but I just can't remember how it goes. I'm translating Spanish from Spain into UK English.
Se repasó varias veces la Biblia aunque fuese parcialmente, se informó muy bien del origen de su nombre, y para saber más leyó y releyó el Génesis 9 – 12, concluyendo que tarde o temprano, cuando estuviese bien preparado para ello e influenciado por lo de las especies cautivas en el arca de Noé, intuyó que también a él le gustaría tener descendencia; bien muy bien Noé ¿pero donde está tu femenina pareja? Compró incluso varias publicaciones, antiguas y no tanto, acerca aquel hombre de inquebrantable fe, el bíblico Noé que salvó *contra tiempo y marea* a la humanidad preservando y salvaguardando a todas las criaturas y especies de ambos sexos en su famosa arca.
I wouldn't go so far as to say that "against the odds" is wrong; after all, it does denote the primary intended meaning of "despite great adversity". However, there is another option that combines both of the semantic layers expressed in the original rather than just one of them (that is, both the propositional and the expressive meaning). "Time and tide" also happens to be nice and idiomatic.
I appreciate your concern and I understand how you feel because you think I've made the wrong choice. It happens to me, too! However, I've just come back from a meeting with the proofreader (we're going chapter by chapter) and I've explained the difficulty I've had in choosing what to say - I didn't mention my post here, because I didn't want to influence him in any way. I just said I had two ideas but I couldn't decide which one to use. I told him that the final decision was his. Anyway, he says that at the moment, he prefers "against the odds".
I reckon the author chose the expression because it alludes both to the time factor (Noah had a limited amount of time before the floods would arrive and wipe out humanity) and the flooding (with "tide") so it's not really "all odds" but two specific odds that the author is referring to. I'd also argue that the expression "against all odds" is a bit pedestrian for this quite literary register, with the additional layer of meaning I've mentioned adding a certain "richness".
I've decided to go for "against the odds" mainly because before posting, I had spent ages trying to remember the expression! However, I agree that maybe "against time and tide" would have been more suitable. The proofreader will have the final decision.
Simon Bruni United Kingdom Local time: 04:39 Specializes in field Native speaker of: English PRO pts in category: 151
Notes to answerer
Asker: Thanks! I had forgotten there was a literal translation, although I must admit I didn't know Noah had to race against time to get all the animals on board. I had always thought the whole business was carried out in a more leisurely fashion. That it was a difficult thing to do because of the nature of the job, not because he had to race against time! I was googling "work against" and not "race against".