Translation (and Klingon) in our real and fictional worlds
30th September 2014 – Today is International Translation Day – and also St. Jerome’s Day.
It was chosen in recognition of St. Jerome (347 – 420 AD), the 4th Century translator and scholar who translated the Bible from Hebrew into Latin. His translation was called the Vulgate and became the official Catholic Bible of the 16th Century. As a translator, Jerome was trilingual in Latin, Greek & Hebrew.
To mark this day, we’re going to share some trivia about the ancient profession of translation and languages in the real and fictional worlds…
- How the word was spread
The word ‘translate’ derives from the Latin ‘to carry across from one place to another’.
- “Makes no difference where you are…”
The second most translated book in the world (after The Bible) is Carlo Collodi’s Pinocchio. Thanks to Walt Disney.
- What do you really mean?
The ancient Greeks already knew how to distinguish between metaphrase (literal translation) and paraphrase (“additional manner of expression”).
- Klingon – from the Bible to the Opera
The Old Testament’s Genesis 1:1 was translated into Klingon, the Vulcan language created by American linguist Mark Okrand for the Star Trek films. The first Klingon opera on Earth performed entirely in the Klingon language and entitled ‘u’ was staged in the Hague in September 2010.
- The Twelfth Book
There are altogether twelve published English translations of Tolstoy’s War and Peace.
- ‘Tolkien’ in tongues
Tolkien really was Lord of the Tongues and over the course of his life he created several languages: High Elvish (including Quenya and Sindarin), Dwarvish (Khuzdul), Entish, and Black Speech. He believed language is the beginning of a culture rather than merely a product of it. “The invention of languages,” he wrote, “is the foundation. The ‘stories’ were made rather to provide a world for the languages than the reverse.”
- Whatever the genre
The most translated authors of fiction are Agatha Christie, William Shakespeare and Jules Verne.
- ‘Le grant translateur’
The first high quality Early English literary translations were performed by the great English poet, Geoffrey Chaucer, referred to as ‘le grant translateur’ by his contemporary, the French poet Eustache Deschamps. Chaucer was known for his tradition of free adaptation – in other words, he loved a bit of paraphrasing…
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