Wednesday, July 09, 2008

distemper, dis-temper, or this temper

I love translation, but I seldom immerse myself in it. But when I decide to translate an article, I translate it with vim and vigor.To be honest, our translation classes at university were awful. Let me tell you a real story about our oral translation class.

One day our instructor brought a tape with herself and asked us to transcribe and then translate it. I listened to the tape and put down everything on my notebook. Something was wrong with a line in that text. The line, which knocked me for a loop, was this:

Her cat had been given its distemper shot.

Unaware of the real meaning of "distemper" and being lazy enough to look the word up in a dictionary, my instructor and classmates translated the word incorrectly. They thought the word meant "behaving badly". Do you get what I mean?

No one in the class paid heed to this mistranslation. During listening to the tape again and reviewing my notes for the exam, a question came to my head. Was it distemper, dis-temper, or this temper? The first one, of course, seemed to be the answer. And my trusty dictionary approved that.

Distemper: a serious infectious disease that affects animals.

Oscar Wilde once said it is always a very dangerous thing to tell a story with a moral. I cannot give the moral of this story a miss, however. Some translators, no matter where they come from or what their native language is, do not take translation very seriously. They do not want to thrash the problems of translation out. Please add the number of some students of translation and their teachers to the list.




Ghasem said...

Dear blogger,
I think there's been misunderstanding.plz read my comment again.
I said in spite of ur precious materials in ur blog ur visitors,specially those who comment were not many.
it's our country's prob.
sorry if my comment bothered.
good luck.

Anonymous said...


the more i looking for for your E mail the less i succeed, any way, you can have a look to below links for getting some documents.

thanks, hamlet,

Ghasem said...

I wanted to email you butI couldent find ur email add.
I have got my BA in English literature from a low grade branch of Azad uni. In the case of English it doesn�t matter from which university you've graduated.its highly up to yourself to be skillful(I dont claim on my sophistication),its my opinion.
Your blog seems to be a training one, most of your posts are expressions about different subjects(that are very precious)but your claim, that most of your visitors are Americans,seems odd ,they must be your friends,even may be your Farsi speaking friends,because teaching expressions to natives by a non-native person doesn�t seem wise.
Another thing is about your style of writing,too much using of imperative sentences, beyond the shadow of a doubt,will bother any native speaker, generally visitors of your blog find you an instructor not a friend to be at ease with her.
Sorry if I am a bit frank.
any way I congratulate,u have a nice and useful blog.
good luck,
nice time.
if u agree I suggest to exchange links.

continue please said...

hi my dear. I often see ur web. that is good & beautiful. my web is about good sentences, so plz see & help me wit ur beautiful sentences.:)

Zahra said...

what is ur website's address?

VAHID said...

hello dear,

I am Vahid, a college student, I study Translation at university and now I find your wl from dozens wls, I'm glad to visit your wl.

Thanks a lot Zahra.

sincerly yours,
Vahid Fallah