Idiomatic Translations

Cinefactus

Censor
Staff member
This is a sticky to summarise opinion on idiomatic translations of words or phrases where a literal translation is inappropriate. I have put it in the Chat forum to try to prevent people from posting tattoo translations to it.

Please feel free to add to this list, giving links, if appropriate, to discussion of the issue.

DOES anyone want to do a post for forever?

Concepts
names in Latin
prepositional phrases

Specific Words & Phrases
abandon hope
eternally
dream
it is better to
never
step by step
 

Cinefactus

Censor
Staff member

scrabulista

Consul
Staff member
I don't think I quite made my point with this one....I ended up supplying a literal translation though.

viewtopic.php?f=31&t=9086

EDIT: It's a book of Aesop's Fables in which the editor translates "in union there is strength" as juncta juvant. More literally, it means "together they help" which is as much the moral to the story as "in union there is strength." Also the editor's version has an alliterative effect and is also part of a popular legal maxim...I am assuming those advantages weren't enough to overcome the requester's desire for a literal translation.
 

scrabulista

Consul
Staff member

scrabulista

Consul
Staff member
[Poetry]

Imagery may contain double entendres and thus is hard to translate.

Does the "spring" in this one mean the vernal part of the year, a small natural fountain, or both?
viewtopic.php?f=2&t=6249

Is the "light" in this one light from the sun, or does it mean 'not heavy,' or both?
viewtopic.php?f=2&t=5747
 

Imber Ranae

Ranunculus Iracundus
It is better to...

Cinefactus dixit:
You should probably emend this to melius est + accusative w/infinitive (indirect discourse)

It's misleading as it now stands, because in a sentence like Melius est bonum nomen quam divitiae multae, the noun phrases bonum nomen and divitae multae are nominative, not accusative.
 

scrabulista

Consul
Staff member
Dignity and an empty sack...

is worth the sack.

The problem here is finding a word that means both "sack" (meaning getting fired) and "sack" (in the sense of lunch pail, or possibly wallet). saccus does accomplish the latter.

viewtopic.php?f=2&t=6025
 

scrabulista

Consul
Staff member

scrabulista

Consul
Staff member
[Slang]

Even without the possible double entendre, this one would be difficult:
"No one on the corner have swagger like us"
viewtopic.php?f=2&t=8253
 

Cinefactus

Censor
Staff member
Prepositional Phrases

Posted by Imber Ranae:
The Latin language does not use Preopositional Attributes as frequently and freely as the English language, and English Prepositional Attributes genreally are expressed either by LATIN GENITIVES, or by the insertion of PARTICIPLES

See here
 

Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member
Ardens would be most usual.

In flamma occurs in Ovid, but he's a poet so it isn't certain the phrasing would have been used in "normal" speech or prose writing. I suppose in vulcano is theoretically possible on the pattern of in flamma, but it doesn't seem to be attested (and it would be even more poetic, because there would be metonymy in addition: Vulcanus primarily means the god Vulcan, and can mean fire only by metonymy).
 

Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member
Well yes, I believe you were dead right.
 
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