Translatable but Debatable
A machon can be a beauty shop, but it’s seldom if ever a barber shop. It can be a language school, but it’s seldom if ever a driving school. What’s the criterion?
Reverso.net translates “I’m a creep, I’m a weirdo” as Ani muzar, ani timhoni. I think it drops the ball when it translates “creep” as simply “strange,” and I think a creep is a more unsympathetic kind of a weirdo than a timhoni normally is.
Although you can read in one place that “Israelis use the word ‘stam’ at every chance they get,” elsewhere you can read that “its not a word you hear often. I (and others) use it 99% of the time as ‘Just Kidding’, but it is slang.”
Think about a grandmother who mitrageshet upon receiving a birthday present from her eight-year-old granddaughter. She doesn’t feel and behave the same as an eight-year-old who mitrageshet upon receiving a birthday present from her grandmother.
The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam says that when displayed, Anish Kapoor’s Internal Object in Three Parts “will enter a visual dialogue with Rembrandt’s late works.” I always find the one-sided claim of a dialogue irritating. I was talking with Dante the other day, and he calls it infernal.
Of my print dictionaries, only Oxford (by Ya’acov Levy) acknowledges the show-biz meaning of keta, calling it a performer’s “number.” Viewing life as a cabaret, we may ask when someone behaves strangely “What is his keta?” — that is to say, his item on the program. His routine, his gag, his schtick, his spot, his bit, his piece, his act, his stunt, his stuff, his trick.
In English a word like “meticulous” does double duty, describing both the person who is strict about details and the work that gets done that way. But it isn’t passive, so when applied to the work, it doesn’t point back to the creator of the meticulousness as strongly as mookpad does. Mookpad is more like “meticulized.”
L'ar'er, meaning an undermining of balance, has never been my favorite verb, because it goes twice over two consonants that we Americans can’t pronounce well. Even in English, I was never sure whether to pronounce the verb “err” like the first syllable of “error” or like the first syllable of “ermine.” But what l'ar'er does have in its favor that verbs like undermine or destabilize don’t is its ding-dong, seesaw , shikshukish repetition. It brings to mind — to my mind, at least — an effort to weaken something by joggling it back and forth.
A khavaya is an experience, so khavayati translates logically to “experiential” — an uncomfortable construction, certainly too unattractive for use in advertising. It wears its suffix like a borrowed pair of shoes.
For the American market, it was necessary to remove elements that were peculiar to Israel and change the names of the characters to proper American names. The USA may be a nation of immigrants, but American children want to read about other children who are like themselves, not foreigners in a foreign environment. In that way they differ from American adults who read Israeli novels in translation and tend to appreciate learning new things about the country through them.
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