April 20th, 2004

A Question in Translation Studies

A question in the theory of translation has occurred to me: some words truly do not exist in certain languages, i.e. cannot be adequately expressed in a certain foreign language, but only approximated, or dropped, or described. For instance, the Hebrew words 'davka' and 'harey' (the particle, not the genitive plural of 'mountain') have no English counterparts, and are notoriously difficult to translate. This is obvious and well-known.

Naively, in the case of a text translated from English into Hebrew, we should not expect to find a single instance of either of these two words. But as a matter of fact, such translations do include these words, of course, even if (as I guess they do) in a lesser frequency than in original Hebrew texts. My question is roughly this: what are the conditions in which a translator would choose such words in translation? What sort of constructs or expressions in the source language typically produce such choices?

I figure it's been studied already. I'm just curious.
  • Current Music
    Meir Ariel -- Tikva

Books to the Brits!

I've had occasion to re-read the Israeli Copyright Law today.

Apparently, the British Copyright Act of 1911, which is to this day the basis (with alterations, yes) of the Israeli Copyright Law, decrees that, if asked to do so, any publisher of any book must send copies of the book to the Bodleian Library at Oxford, to the Cambridge University Library, to the Edinburgh Law Faculty Library, to the library of Trinity College in Dublin, and to the Wales National Library.

Oddly, unlike other irrelevant sections of the law, this one is not followed by the parenthetical comment "does not apply in Israel" in the Israeli version of the law. Neat!
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    Frank Zappa -- You're Probably Wondering Why I'm Here