Translatable but Debatable
The other day, I was translating some Hebrew that referred to something as “worth about as much as a garlic peel.” It’s a common expression in Hebrew, but I’ve never heard it in English. Still, I thought, it’s self-explanatory and expressions do pass from one language into another all the time.
For the catchphrase describing Menachem Begin’s supply-side economic policies, I find various translations on the web: to make good to the people, to benefit the people, to do well by the people, to let the people enjoy, and more.
If something or someone is described as being down on the ground and I see the verb lirbotz, often I think “Why didn’t the writer just say lishkav, to lie? Did he have anything special in mind, or is he simply disdaining to use everyday language and forcing me to find a pompous equivalent?”
If in context the verb l’hitnossess refers to something flapping or fluttering high like a flag, or hovering, so much the better for the translation, because it’s hard to translate the concept of just sitting still up there.
Merriam-Webster takes an example of prolepsis from a poem by Alexander Pope where “yon slow oxen turn the furrowed plain.” The plain isn’t furrowed until they’ve turned it. Some organizations hold a “lessons learned” meeting at the end of a project, and if everyone had learned the lessons already, the meeting wouldn’t be necessary. So that’s prolepsis too.
From the Morfix and Babylon online dictionaries, we can learn that the hishtalshelut of something is its evolution, progression, development (of a situation, event), chain of events, or sequence. Some of those terms in English are fine for a more lengthy happening, like the development of an ideology or the progression of a relationship, but I’m not sure there’s room for them in a startling incident that may have taken a couple of seconds maximum.
If you look up sefer iyun in Wikipedia and click for the corresponding page in English, you find that it’s “nonfiction.” But you don’t find that it’s a translation of the same article. I think every sefer iyun is nonfiction, but not every book of nonfiction is a sefer iyun.
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.”