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Luzhin's Language - Impressions and Expressions of Ijon
September 6th, 2002
05:32 pm


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Luzhin's Language
Reading Nabokov's Luzhin's Defense, I encountered the following sentence:
"Oh, Luzhin," she sighed, "what you do to the language."
Reading the (quite competent, as far as I can judge) English translation by Michael Scammell, I did not notice much amiss in Luzhin's language. His vocabulary does seem limited, and his syntax simple, but I don't remember genuine mistakes or coarseness. I am guessing that in the Russian original, Luzhin's speech is more markedly uneducated. If you've read it in Russian, I'd love to hear what you think about this.

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Date:September 6th, 2002 09:05 am (UTC)

Just maybe...?

Ummmm... haven't read it (in any language), but kindly consider: could "she" be sighing with fond indulgence and/or amusement? (I won't go so far as to suggest "appreciation/admiration," but perhaps...?)

I realize that'd work better if the preposition was "with" rather than "to" -- but if prepositions aren't the overall-most-idiomatic part of speech in translation* (i.e. between any Source:Target language pair), you tell me what is.

*excluding the, excuse me, nonsense of assigning gender to inanimate objects: e.g. the table being masculine in Hebrew, feminine in Spanish. Or is it merely the word which receives the gender? I've never bothered to ask anyone.

just an idle thought, but HTH anyway,
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