April 24, 2005


This Amritas post about translating reminded me of a class I took in France. I signed up for it because it was called "Communication et Langage", but I didn't realize until I was weeks into the class that it was under the science dicipline and was a course about animal communication (I kept thinking we'd do a bit on animals and then make it to humans: we made it as far as gorillas.) One exciting aspect of the class was that my animal knowledge was pretty poor. I found that I could understand everything in the class except for the names of the animals. So I would write down what I thought I was hearing and then try to guess what animal it was by the description of how they communicate! And then I'd get home and look in a dictionary and go, "Oh, badgers!" It was a funny language learning experience because I knew everything in the sentences except for the key word!

Translating is hard, by the way. When I lived in France, my mother and uncle came to visit me, and we all went to visit my relatives. One elderly relative was very witty and was always making jokes and references to things that happened hours prior, and my mom and uncle always wanted to know why everyone was laughing. Then all the French relatives wanted to know why it took me three paragraphs to explain a one-liner...usually because I had to explain something that had happened two days before that I hadn't translated back then because I didn't think it was important. My brain was so tired at the end of that week.

When we first moved here to Germany, I was hard at work translating a Swedish play. I got twenty typed pages done before I got my job, and I haven't touched it since. I want to finish it after we get home from our vacation; I enjoy translating as a hobby, though I doubt I'm that good at it. I started translating this play because it's so good that I want others to be able to read it, and I can't even find an original Swedish copy, much less one in English translation. So I decided to make my own. I wish I could translate my favorite Swedish book too.

Posted by: Sarah at 04:35 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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