Notes from New Sodom

... rantings, ravings and ramblings of strange fiction writer, THE.... Sodomite Hal Duncan!!

Thursday, June 05, 2008

More Lost in Translation

So here's some more questions, this time from Luis Gallego, the Spanish translator, who's also kindly agreed to let me post 'em.

Pg 33: CAVOR-REICHS. mmmm... mmmmm... don´t know why.

Ahhh. That would be from Professor Cavor and Cavorite (H.G. Wells) and Wilhelm Reich, the mad scientist behind the theory of orgone energy.

Pg 37: HELLION. Is there a reason for that, some allusion I can´t see? I tell you that because I´ve discovered birdman last week and I wonder if you use 'birdman' in your book for that reason and if hellion have similar allusions.

I used it as a pun on “Hellene”, meaning “hellraiser / troublemaker” ( but with the idea that it suggests “inhabitant of Hell”. I didn’t think of the comics reference at all, to be honest. The “Birdman” cartoon, however, I remember with great fondness from a childhood spent watching this:

Though the main idea there was just to have Finnan use the word to trivialise the unkin that see themselves as “angels”.

pg 40: SOOTH-SIMILE. I´ve the same doubts with those names.

There’s a vague theme of the puns in this part of the book relating to myth, drama, literature and such – I was going for a hint of a metafictiony thing, I guess. So Thebes becomes Themes, Zeus becomes Sooth (as in soothsayer) and Semele becomes Simile. I’ve *no* idea how that could be translated. If there are puns in Spanish that might work in place of these, nouns that sound similar to the names, I kinda think that would work better than literal translations of the puns I use. Even if they have a different meaning, well, I was kinda trying to use the randomness of similar sounds to find new meaning in the chance associations... if that makes sense. So if there was a way to do something similar in Spanish, that would be cool. I kinda like the idea of different translations being subtly different in that respect.

But this is where my way of writing becomes a bastard to translate, isn’t it? Sorry.

pg 58: BOSCH. Dutch???

[ORIGINAL RESPONSE:]“Bosch” was British WW1 slang for the Germans. I don’t know where it came from and it might well have been a totally idiotic thing to call them, but it was pretty common. Feel free to just use “the German(s)” where appropriate or whatever Spanish term would be apt – assuming there is one.

[REVISED RESPONSE COURTESY OF HANNES*:] Turns out I was talking nonsense about “Bosch”. The proper spelling is “Boche”. I’d got the word confused with the chemical company because they had a big factory near where I grew up. So I heard it as a kid and always assumed it was the same spelling as the chemical company.

[*One of the good things about the translation process is finding out about all the little gaffes that slipped through. So when I shared my responses with Hannes he picked up on the Bosch/Boche gaff and clued me up on it. Oh well, says I. May as well expose my ignorance for all the world to see. You may now point and laugh.]


Anonymous Anonymous said...

In French, Boche(s) describe the german people. But it's a disdainful term.

9:57 am  

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