Misquotations pop up in the strangest places.
Today, I was at a stationery store (it was stationary, too, by the way) looking at anniversary cards. (Don’t tell my wife; I’d like to surprise her.)
There, I found two which each referred to the same Hermann Hesse quotation. However, the quotes did NOT MATCH.
The one on the top (at right) apparently captured the quote correctly, with the important IF at the beginning.
The other one (below, at right) snipped off the IF. The proper rendering (translated from Hesse’s novel Narziss und Goldmund) is:
If I know what love is, it is because of you. [Boldface added.]
Without the initial IF, problems arise. For one thing, this leaves two independent clauses with a dreaded “comma splice” between. But the real problem is bigger than that. Here’s an example of a lazy approach to quotations.
Oh, I almost forgot. There’s another problem. Both cards spelled his first name wrong, dropping the second -n. At least they were consistent!
Back to the quotation…..
I see from one Web site that Hesse’s quotation in German was:
Wenn ich trotzdem weiß, was Liebe ist, so ist es deinetwegen.
I ran it through Babylon and got this:
If I, what love is, nevertheless know, so it is as far as you are concerned.
Google handles the translation this way:
If I still know what love is, it is because of you.
Not bad! I like the “still”.
And the elusive “IF” is in both.
Posted in Translated Quotes on Apr 11th, 2012
The April 12, 2012, edition of Hong Kong’s South China Post, I think, misrepresents what Ozzie Guillen said in the Tuesday press conference in Miami. In a promo on the main Sports page, the paper says that Guillen said the problem was a “misquote” (see above).
But I’m pretty sure he didn’t use that word. “Misinterpretation”? I don’t think he used that word either, but it works here. “Mistranslation”? That’s more like it–from his point of view. I don’t think he ever complained about a “misquote”.
The South China Post printed an Associated Press account of the press conference. The article correctly puts it this way:
Guillen took full responsibility for his comments, but said they were misinterpreted by Time‘s reporter.
The AP account notes that “Time said it stood by its story.” And that’s easy to do, I think, because the whole “misinterpretation” and “mistranslation” evidently happened within Mr. Guillen’s head. During the press conference, in Spanish, he blamed the problem he had with the Time story on his own inability in the interview with Time to say in English what he was thinking in Spanish. He put it this way,
“It was a personal mistake of the thing I had in my mind and what I said. What I wanted to say in Spanish, I said in English in a wrong way.”
Still, it’s a leap–from the “I love Fidel Castro” in English to the (paraphrase here) ‘I don’t love or admire Fidel Castro’ in Spanish.
In any case, the promo (above) should be worded differently. Too often, I think, people who are embarrassed by or criticized for a statement attributed to them, raise the “misquote” complaint too quickly and too often. This is NOT what Guillen has said happened to his words. He did not fall into the knee-jerk “I was misquoted” trap.
Posted in Translated Quotes on Apr 11th, 2012
Ozzie Guillen, baseball manager of the Florida Marlins, has finally said something that has generated massive blowback. He was suspended for five games and apologized in a long press conference on Tuesday (10 April), as summarized by Yahoo! At issue was something Guillen said.
The Yahoo! article quoted Guillen’s most relevant comment from the Time article (headlined “Big Fish”. Sorry. The link takes you only to the first paragraph, which is free.):
“I respect Fidel Castro. You know why? A lot of people have wanted to kill Fidel Castro for the last 60 years, but that [expletive] is still here.”
Oh yeah. There was another quote from Guillen. The entire article began with a four-word quotation from him. The opener: “I love Fidel Castro.”
He spent much of the press conference back-pedaling from the remarks due to the firestorm he sparked among Fidel-Loathing Cuban Americans in Miami. I appreciate that Guillen put the brakes on before coming out and claiming that Time’s Sean Gregory misquoted him.
The problem, the coach said, was translation. Here’s what he said, according to HuffingtonPost.com:
“In the translation from Spanish to English you lose a lot. I don’t want to make any excuses, but what I wanted to say is that I was surprised that Castro had been in power for so long, after hurting so many people. But something was lost in the translation from Spanish to English.”
He said this in Spanish. HuffPo translated it into English. Translation is always tricky. It’s still unclear how he got so quickly from “I love Fidel Castro” to, paraphrasing here, “I hate Fidel Castro.”
Would love to find out what he actually said–in Spanish, I presume–to the Time writer.