December 3rd, 2020


Adventures in translating

We've gotten back into the habit of watching an American show and then going back and watching key scenes with the French dub (for the usual reason). It gives us some interesting insight into the translation process...or maybe our work as translators gives us the insight to notice these things. But the point is!

There was this scene...okay, so the teenage girl and her not-yet-boyfriend accidentally left their little sisters at the movies, and when they got back to the girl's house, the not-yet-boyfriend's little sister was there, and since they'd called her mother, she had a message for her brother. Their mom wanted them to go to the store on the way home and pick up eggs, milk, and a switch (not a Nintendo Switch, and also it might not have been eggs or milk, but that's not the point). In the French version, their mother asked for eggs, milk, and another son. And we were like, "That...that's not what she meant by 'switch.'"

Maybe the translator wanted to avoid references to violence. The joke still stands, so it was a pretty good way to go, whether it was deliberate or not. Either way, it's fascinating to see how translators deal with things...and I'm probably a lot more forgiving about it when it's not my language pair. If it were J-E, I'd probably be like, "How could you get that wrong!?" (being fully aware that I have made mistakes, as well), but with E-F, I'm like, "Oh, that's interesting!"

Today I'm thankful for Netflix allowing us to watch stuff in so many different languages, getting to pick up lots of star fragments today, getting to listen to a chapter of Percy Jackson in French, the quest for orichalcum, and knowing (at least temporarily) the correct spelling of orichalcum.