Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Translating proverbs

When you put proverbs in a dictionary, you add all the usual things. You describe the meaning, you add an etymology and you translate the proverb. However how do you translate proverbs, do you translate them literally or do you want to give a proverb with a same meaning.

The proverb "de beste stuurlui staan aan wal" has a similar meaning as the English "backseat drivers". The Dutch version is nautical and the second one obviously not. So it is hardly a literal translation but it is a functional translation. In general terms the meaning can be described and as such it would function however, I can apreciate that there will be a certain drift when proverbs from many languages are put forward.

The problem for me is to consider how to deal with this in the Ultimate Wiktionary.. Well, at this moment we do not have it yet so it is not a problem .. :)



Anonymous said...

You need to give the literal meaning, as well as a translation. The translation probably shouldn't be a proverb itself, though it can be helpful to give any corresponding proverb as well.

Anonymous said...

There is a saying that translates to "it is better to keep your mouth shut and let people believe you are an idiot, than to open your mouth and remove every doubt". Considering this proverb, is this why you have a blog?

Past Expiry said...

Here's a proverb you can post on your cubical wall…
Past Expiry Cartoon *LINK*