RARA-AVIS: Another translation example

From: Anders Engwall (KI/EAB) ( anders.engwall@ericsson.com)
Date: 19 Oct 2004


Karin mentioned the feeling that occasionally "something is missing" in translation. Well, sometimes that has literally been the case.

Consider the opening of Jim Thompson's THE GETAWAY:

Carter "Doc" McCoy had left a morning call for six o'clock, and he was reaching for the telephone the moment the night clerk rang. He had always awakened easily and pleasantly; a man with not a regret for the past, and completely confident and self-assured as he faced each new day. Twelve years of prison routine had merely molded his natural tendencies into habit.

"Why, I slept fine, Charlie," he said, in his amiably sincere voice. "Don't suppose I should ask you the same question, eh? Ha-ha! Got my breakfast on the way, have you? Fine, attaboy, You're a gentleman and a scholar, Charlie."

Now, look at the Swedish translation (RYMMARNA, 1977):

Carter "Doc" McCoy hade beg䲴 v䣫ning till klockan sex, och han str䣫te sig efter telefonen i samma blick som den ringde. Han hade alltid l䴴 ftt vakna och s姠varje dag an med tillfkt. Tolv 岳 f䮧elserutin hade bara gjort det till en vana.

"Jo, jag har sovit gott, Charlie," svarade han med sin godmodigt allvarliga r "Man det har f峠inte du, va? Var hygglig och skicka upp min frukost. Vackert, du 䲠en riktig gentleman, Charlie."

Notice that this appears to be shorter than the original. This is indeed the case. A retranslation back to English yields something like:

Carter "Doc" McCoy had left a morning call for six o'clock, and he was reaching for the telephone the moment it rang. He had always awakened easily and faced each new day self-assuredly. Twelve years of prison routine had merely turned it into habit.

"Why, I slept fine, Charlie," he said, in his amiably sincere voice.
"Don't suppose you have, eh? Got my breakfast on the way, have you? Fine, you're a real gentleman, Charlie."

And it goes on like this, cutting corners. I suppose the novel was shortened to make way for the pornographic appendix that appeared in this book line at the time.

Anders

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