Tag Archives: English

Sometimes translation is moan

I’m fascinated with how one language relates to another and what that looks like in translation.  One of the special features on Monty Python’s Holy Grail special edition is a scene from the film which was dubbed (i.e. translated) into Japanese with English subtitles translated from the Japanese dub.  It’s fascinating what happens to words and phrases when they are translated out of one language into another and then translated back to the original language.

Earlier today I was reading a Dutch children’s story to Madeline and translating it into English as I read. It’s really quite interesting how much nuance is lost in translation, even between two Germanic languages. Certain Dutch words have no English equivalent that I’m aware of; other words require multiple words in English; some have so many shades of meaning that several similar words put together only hint at what the original word might mean. I imagine it’s the same when translating the other way.

To that end, and for my own interest (because I’m sure that few, if any of you, will be interested), I present you with my literal (“wooden”) word-for-word translation of “Nijntje Aan Zee”.  (Nijntje Pluis is a children’s character, named “Miffy” in English.)

It looks long, but it’ll be a quick read, and near the end I have some fun by translating from Dutch to English to Dutch and back to English again using different translators.

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