Modern translations

Someone noticed today my random use of Latin. And it got me thinking about translations, mostly because English is the only (non-programming) language I know.

[The Stranger and Latin maxims after the jump.]

The Stranger

One day in college I was bored and so I picked up a copy of The Stranger and started reading—I blame Robert Smith.

Now in this particular translation—purchased because I’m the sort of person who does buy books by their cover—the opening paragraph was changed from:

Mother died today. Or, maybe, yesterday; I can’t be sure.


Maman died today. Or yesterday maybe, I don’t know.

The translator notes made a big deal of this, because apparently, “maman” is the French informal for “mother,” and the whole injustice perpetuated against the Emo nation doesn’t quite get across in the original.

Of course, that was completely worthless because I pretty much almost failed French 1 and didn’t read the translator notes until I finished the book. It made me think, that in all these years, why hasn’t it ever been translated as:

Mommy died today. Or maybe yesterday, I don’t know.

…and the only conclusion I could draw is that some of them wanted to bludgeon us with their erudition because they didn’t almost fail French 1, and the rest of them thought: Get over it, it’s really not that big of a deal. And besides I have like 200 more f—ing pages to translate.

Latin quotation

I solved my language requirement with three years of Latin.

The problem with doing Latin quotations is that they make you seem a bigger asshole, especially when nearly all of them already have aphorisms in English that sound rather lame.

In all my travails, I have only come across one Latin quote, also learned in class, that doesn’t work that way:

Semper ubi sub ubi.

mostly because it’s a pun…in English.

By the way, the “modern” translation would be:

Don’t go commando.

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