At the back of the hill

Warning: If you stay here long enough you will gain weight! Grazing here strongly suggests that you are either omnivorous, or a glutton. And you might like cheese-doodles.
BTW: I'm presently searching for another person who likes cheese-doodles.
Please form a caseophilic line to the right. Thank you.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014


Sometimes your mind gets preoccupied with problems of translation. Dutch, you realize, despite it's enormous similarity to English -- a hairball uphacking version of Saxon-speak -- is at times quite opaque.
The two languages are extremely close relatives.
But differ considerably in their eccentricities.

This bubbled to the forefront of the lobes upon seeing this illustration:

Better examples of Dinglish would be hard to find. Yet to a Dutchspeaker who understands some neighboring tongues, it is utterly transparent.

"Before halftime we rather cocked up, and that almost inexpressibly irritated the spit out of me; I was sitting on pins and needles the whole time."

"But in the second half we got our act together, ramping up the pressure with Depay, which was splendid; it's an immeasurable relief that we've advanced to the next round."

Translation back into Dungle, for the English-impaired: 'Voor de halve tijd hebben we het nogal op gehaand, en dat heeft me bijna spugloos geirriteerd; ik zat op pinnen en naalden de gehele tijd. Maar in de sekonde helft kregen we onze toneelstuk samen, en drukten wij voerend op met Depay, hetgeen prachtig was; het is een meetloze verluchting dat we naar de volgende ronde kunnen.'

[This cartoon comes from the fertile brains of soccer enthusiasts John le Noble ('Joop') and Toon van Driel ('Toon'), who are featured in the Algemeen Dagblad and other publications.
All hail Joop and Toon; Boffo stuff, guys.

F. C. Knudde.]

Key words

Legde uit; uitleggen: to lay out, to explain, to provide clarification. Haarfijn: precisely, in detail. Zooitje: a little mess. Broertje: little brother. Strot: gorge, throat; larynx. Billen: glutei maximi; the rump; posterior portions. Recht zetten: setting it right, straightening it out.
Potje: a little cauldron. Volgende: following.

There now. Doesn't that make everything clearer?

[The Dutch have a name for their own brand of our tongue: Steenkolen Engels; "stone coal English". That being what coal loaders on the docks in Rotterdam might speak. 
It's not Double Dutch, really more half cooked.]

Much of what people say in any language relies on the ability of the listener to contextualize for its comprehensibility and meaning, we seldom consider that what seems crystal clear to us might, if translated word for word, become sheer gibberish in another tongue.
Our own forms of expression depend upon our cultural environment and diverse unique knowledge sets for any clarity; all translation must necessarily involve paraphrasis.

Consider, for instance, the tattoo I saw on someone's arm the other day: 'Death before Dishonour'.

Problem was that it had been written in Chinese. As translated by a non-Chinese speaker.


[Cantonese pronunciation: 'sei chin sau yuk'.]

What it says is "humiliating death". Which makes no sense, unless this is instruction to whoever wishes to whack the idiot.
In which case it's perfectly clear.
First abuse, then kill.

Translations, no matter how brilliant the scholar, need to pass the muster of a native speaker before they're set free. And sometimes things cannot be translated effectively at all.

Consider the captioned photo below, which probably only makes sense to a meme-savvy American of a certain age:


It helps if you are reasonable familiar with lolcats, Montgomery Burns, and the evil emperor Palpatine from the Star Wars series.
As well as down with junkfood.

NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:
All correspondence will be kept in confidence.


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