RARA-AVIS: Re: RARA-AVIS Digest V2 #1011

Karen Anderson (karenand@halcyon.com)
Fri, 24 Dec 1999 17:16:33 -0800

In a message Wed, 22 Dec 1999 David Lane <dalane@argonet.co.uk> commented

>>In article < D07F1FE7FB6DD311890B00508B2C519038A88E@mail.gmgroup.com>,
   Enrique Bird <ebird@gmgroup.com> wrote:
>> ... In most Spanish speaking places, it would not make sense for
>> downtown. The thing is, downtown is a case of a word composed of 2 other
>> words which, when so combined, do NOT add up in their meanings.

>Same in UK. You might, however, say "down town"; which just means going to
>the town centre where the shops and offices are.

>> A non-literal translation might go something like "la parte comercial"
>> "the commercial section".

>It's along time since I was in Spain. Towns and cities seemed much like
>the UK in layout. I've just had an idea! Seville, Toledo, Barcelona and
>other cities have expanded a great deal in recent years; would you not
>describe the old medieval hearts of these cities (especially if they had
>city walls) as the Old City? That would be roughly analogous to the
>American downtown.

i don't think "old city" wouldn't work. In Genova (Genoa) Italy, the medieval old town or (also called the "vicoli," or "the narrow alleyways") is no longer a center of commerce or a "downtown." It's more like a Soho or TriBeca--a mixture of old apartments and shops with trendy boutiques and artists lofts.

The best suggestion I've heard yet in this thread is "la parte comercial" or, in Italian, "it centro commerciale." However, in Genoa, I never heard anyone describe something as a downtown. To signify the commercial area, people simply used the name of the main commercial street the way we would say "Broadway" to signify both a street and the surrounding area.

An aside: I once tried to translate a Sherlock Holmes pastiche that appeared in the Italian magazine Panorama from Italian to English. It was nearly impossible. The two cultures think quite differently, so what is a subtle but recognizable clue in one language comes out either utterly obscure in the other or bizarrely overblown. The story would have required a complete rewriting.


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