Thinking aloud

Well, Happy New Year, gentle readers!

Apologies that you have not heard from me for three weeks. I’m not ignoring you; I’m just a bit snowed under with stuff.  Lots of it is work, some of it is, well, other stuff. In terms of blogworthiness, it is not high on the list of things to include, mainly because I haven’t got time to write about it.

But I will blog about the following… if only to clarify my own thoughts.

I am sitting here debating what to do with a particular headline in a fashion article I am translating this afternoon.
It runs:  Im Westen was Neues. It’s rather clever in German – but leaves me with a little conundrum. Allow me to explain.

Erich Maria Remarque’s novel about WWI was called “Im Westen nichts Neues” – which literally translates as “Nothing new in the West” – and was translated into English as “All Quiet on the Western Front”.

In German, a Weste is a waistcoat (Westen in the plural)… and the headline literally means “Something new in Waistcoats” … So far, so understood. But I am translating for the US market where they call waistcoats ‘vests’. (I’ve spent the morning talking about vests and pants… which to me sounds all wrong as we would call them waistcoats and trousers..but I digress…).

So do I write something along the lines of “There’s something new on the vest front” – and try to retain something of the German play on the book title… or might that be considered to be mocking the German pronunciation of “w” which often comes out as a “v”?  There is no particular reason to ‘mention the war’ here.. so probably not.  Is there any reason to demonstrate that I have spotted the word play? It would be satisfying in one way, but to retain it could make life difficult… Could ‘the vest front’ be misconstrued as meaning the front of the waistcoat? and thus mislead the potential buyer? Possibly. And as I am working entirely in the dark, so to speak, as I am not supplied with images of these highly desirable items, I have no real idea of what they look like; they could be plain, or patterned.  So, on balance,  it looks like this is a candidate for being lost in translation.   Shame, but I expect our American waistcoat-wearing friends will live quite happily, entirely oblivious to their loss. And I have made my decision.

Thank you for bearing with me.

4 thoughts on “Thinking aloud

  1. Listen very carefully, I shall say this only once… Yep, sounds like a sure candidate for lost in translation in 2 languages (or should I say 3 if I American and British as two sub-varieties???)

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