NORTH OF REALITY TRANSLATION PROJECT: DEATH OF A JOURNALIST

by johannespunkt

Good afternoon! Today’s translated piece is Death of a Journalist. Translation notes, in English, are found below the story. If you speak a Germanic language but not Scandinavian, you should try to read everything out anyway, and you’ll be surprised at how much you understand from just the sounds (and from having read the original, I guess). Follow this link for the rest of the pieces in this series: /tag/the-north-of-reality-translation-project/

~

NORR OM VERKLIGHETEN: EN JOURNALISTS DÖD
    av Uel Aramchek
        översättning: Johannes Punkt

Efter journalistens död blev han mummifierad i tidningspapper från fjärran länder. De som deltog i jordfästningen såg in i hans sarkofag och läste om hur han hade dömts till elektriska stolen i de agarthanska förorterna, den hemska jaktolyckan som hade tagit hans hjärtslag ifrån honom vid utkanten av Eldorado och krokodilen som hade slitit ut hans strupe i kloakerna under New York. Tydligen hade också en skarpskytt tvingat livet ur honom när han var i tjänst som krigskorrespondent i Troja. Varenda centimeter hud och varje hypotetiskt sår skymdes av motsägelse.

Den enda berättelse som de flesta trodde på var den som täckte hjärtat: att han hade lönnmördats i den grå staden efter att ha fått reda på för mycket om stadens innanmäte. Gravplundrare på jakt efter sanningen skulle senare gräva fram liket ur jorden och slita av omslaget. Till deras stora förvåning tillhörde kroppen inuti sarkofagen någon helt annan, vilket förstörde alla kvarvarande teorier; men vem den än tillhörde hade han genomlidit varenda ett av de dödliga sår som det stod skrivet om på utsidan.

~

Notes

I’m always a bit wary of the phrases that sound calquish. A prime example of this is the phrase “spendera tid,” which obviously comes from the English “spend time.” Stuck-up people use this obvious heritage to say that it’s bad Swedish, but it’s really not – it’s been in the language for three generations at least, probably longer. That is to say, it’s older than basically all the people wailing about the death of the Swedish tongue. There are more arguments about this, they’re all inane. Sorry.

All the same, I would not like my translations (nor my own writing) to look as though they’re full of bad calquified strata of Swenglish phrases. Therefore, I am cautious about the phrase “take a bullet” – in Swedish, after a comparatively cursory investigation, it seems to only exist in the phrase corresponding to “take a bullet for someone.”

Translation, as they say, is by nature one of the most conservative uses of language (after perhaps writing laws and wedding invitations). Although that is not entirely true – the translator must stick to treaded ground as much as possible, but many are the inventive texts that have been squandered by a limiting translation. The best option for translating “Apparently had even taken a sharpshooter’s bullet” that I found was to write “Tydligen hade tillochmed en skarpskytt tvingat livet ur honom,” which we can backtranslate to apparently, a sharpshooter had forced the life out of him also.

There are a one or two other loose translations like such in this piece, maybe because my brain was configured a particular way when I set about mapping out the translation of it, or maybe because of something in the source language. Most clearly, the “inner workings” of the city became “stadens innanmäte,” the guts of the city. It’s not entirely analogous, although some synonym lists put “innards” and “inner workings” in the same column. I had a long and boring thought process about it and in the end I picked it because it sounded right. That’s also why I used the word for grave-robbers instead of the one for grave-diggers, in the second paragraph. Sounding right is what it comes down to, always.

Advertisements