The Linguist

The Linguist 52,2

The Linguist is a languages magazine for professional linguists, translators, interpreters, language professionals, language teachers, trainers, students and academics with articles on translation, interpreting, business, government, technology

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LITERARY TRANSLATION Mr Bond lives another day Anika Klüver on translating the famous novels of Ian Fleming or fans around the world, James Bond is the epitome of English charm and bravado. Since the publication of Casino Royale, which marks its 60th anniversary in April, more than 100 million copies of Ian Fleming's infamous spy novels have been sold internationally. Yet until Cross Cult commissioned Stephanie Pannen and me to translate the 14-book series, there was no complete and unabridged German translation. 007 is, nevertheless, well-known in Germany thanks to the movies, making this a challenging assignment to get right for both discerning fans and casual readers. Firstly, it is essential to get the tone right. Fleming's style is a mixture of the very detached and the poetic. There are parts where he gets quite lyrical, and others where there is just a cold, sober description of facts. He often uses very short sentences, and often shortens phrases and terms. Moonraker (1955), for example, begins: 'The two thirtyeights roared simultaneously.' This refers to the .38 revolvers that Bond and his shooting instructor are using, although the meaning may not be immediately obvious. These short, sober sentences can be difficult to transfer to German grammar, and some details have to be explained so that readers can understand. On the other end of the scale, very long sentences are used as a device, which also creates a problem. Sentences tend to be longer in German, and the longer the sentence the more confusing. As a translator, you have two choices: leave the long sentence even though it sounds strange, or break it into several sentences, altering the effect. Although the books were written in the 1950s and 1960s, the language is surprisingly F 8 The Linguist APRIL/MAY CREATOR: Ian Fleming modern; it is the details that set them in the past. The descriptions of London and the Secret Service headquarters give a sense of a post-war, Cold War England. Fleming uses a lot of brand names that were well known in Britain at the time. There is a scene in Dr No (1958), for example, in which seven brand names appear in one short paragraph, including Steradent, Aspirin and Guerlain. We often use those brands, together with other details that are evocative of the time, to give the reader a sense of the narrative unfolding in a bygone era. In previous translations into German, such details are often completely missing. In From Russia, with Love (1957), Bond's breakfast is described in detail: 'Then there were two thick slices of wholewheat toast, a large pat of deep yellow Jersey butter and three squat glass jars containing Tiptree 'Little Scarlet' strawberry jam; Cooper's Vintage Oxford marmalade and Norwegian Heather Honey from Fortnum's.' In the 1966 translation, this is reduced to just 'Erdbeermarmelade, Orangenmarmelade und norwegischer Honig'. The old translations were completed soon after the books were first published, and they can be a useful reference. However, they contain many omissions. Sometimes when we are unsure of a sentence, word or fact and look at how the old translation handled it, we find that it isn't included at all. For the chapters about horse-racing in Diamonds are Forever (1956), we needed to find an equivalent for 'ringer', but the word did not appear in the old translation. We decided on Doppelgänger. Similarly, much of the details of the baccarat game at the start of Casino Royale (1953) were omitted. This involved a lot of research, with Stephanie looking up all the rules. It is not a difficult game, but most people don't know anything about it today, which is probably why it was changed to poker in the 2006 movie with Daniel Craig. The terms officially used in the game are French words, so they didn't have to be translated, but it is important that we understand them and give the reader enough information to be able to understand what is happening in the game. There are also a lot of cultural references that require research. Sometimes we find an equivalent, such as in Live and Let Die (1954), when Mr Big's men refer to Bond as 'Limey'. We translated this as Inselaffe (literally 'island monkey'), which is both an insult (although often used in a humorous way) and a word that refers to people from England. In cases where there is no equivalent, we have to explain cultural references. In Moonraker, they call the ladies' room at the Secret Service 'the powder vine'. This is a play on 'powder room' and 'grapevine', because that is where the gossip happens – where they get their information from. The German word for 'grapevine' is Gerüchteküche (literally 'rumour kitchen'), which does not

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