Tuesday, January 5, 2010

I'll Settle You...

I've learned some spiffy things about language in the past few weeks. Number one is that while the Internet is a wonderful tool for learning a few words of another language here and there, there's really no substitute for a native speaker. Actually I knew that was true before—I just got reminded why it is true.

For example, you can't finish someone in German. "Finish him!" in English is the sort of thing a spectator says to a victorious fighter when he wants the fighter to kill the other guy, but doesn't want to seem rude and say, "KILLLLLLL him!" In German you can't finish people. Instead, you would "settle" them, as in settling your differences by KILLING THEM! 

I'm also beginning to suspect that some of Oberon's jokes aren't going to survive translation. I often have him confuse words and say something just slightly different that won't necessarily make sense in anything but English. One that comes to mind is his problem with inhuman and non-human. Many languages don't have prefixes like that, so Oberon's confusion (and the mild joke) are going to get lost.

I now have a native Polish speaker and a native German speaker to help me out...I still need a native Russian speaker. If anybody knows one, give me a shout.

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