Sunday, June 12, 2011

Berlusconi Screwes

The Economist's Johnson blog on language has a lively discussion on how to translate 'screwed' in their latest European cover title 'The Man Who Screwed an Entire Country'.

In Russian it works well: Человек, который уделал всю страну. (chelovek, kotory udelal vsyu stranu). I've looked up the synonym dictionary for the 'rude' version of 'screwed', it has 151 suggestions, 'udelal' not included. 'Udelal' (third person masculine past indefinite) has both meanings, ripped-off and f-d. That is not to say that Russian has many more swear words than other languages, but rather to point out that in all languages they have an extremely wide lexical application, which offers a translator an exciting opportunity to experiment. 

Both the post itself and dozens of comments have translations and some shrewd observations on how different languages work with 'double-entendre'. Interestingly, while Dutch and German speakers find it easy to translate, they point out that English is more easy-going with rude, even offensive language.

I was just waiting for on occasion to post 'I am Italian' song by Toto Cutugno from the 1983 San-Remo festival, so here it is:

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