Translation traps

Two weeks ago I wrote a book. Well, I put together a book. Most of it I had written previously in one form or another. In talking with Bruno Valle, Herald of Truth representative in Central America, I realized that we needed a book to give out at some events we’re about to do in Nicaragua. So I put together a book in Spanish called “Lea La Biblia.”

Much of the material was cannibalized from a book I’ve been working on for the last two years. That one’s in English, though some of the material in it was translated from stuff I’d done for my radio program in Spanish. (Dizzy yet?)

I’m a decent translator, but not a great one. Especially when translating a ton of material in a short amount of time. Sometimes I can fall into common language traps. Like what are known as false cognates.

False cognates are words that look like a word from another language, but the two have totally different meanings. “Actual” in English means something that truly exists; “actual” in Spanish means current or up-to-date. They are false cognates.

I was translating a description that I had written, a description of a library. I wrote that there were “miles and miles of books.” When I translated the description into Spanish, I put “miles y miles de libros.” Problem is, that means “thousands and thousands of books.” In this case “miles” ≠ “miles.” Fortunately, the phrase fit the description, which is probably why I didn’t notice my mistake in the first place.

Oh, well. Fortunately I had Bruno to proofread the rest of the book, catching less fortunate errors; he also put together the cover of the book. And I had Joey Roberts to do the layout. Out of the ashes… a book!

3 thoughts on “Translation traps

  1. Rafael Sustaita

    Have you ever wondered that the early translators from the Greek had the same problem but unfortunately we have no one from the lst century to catch those errors?

  2. Pingback: Herald of Truth in Nicaragua | The Kitchen of Half-Baked Thoughts

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.