Friday, September 30, 2011


You know what feels like fingernails on blackboard, chili on the tongue, acid on your skin?
When translations in movies get ... uh... messed up (yeah I was going to use a different word but if I do I'll get my wrist slapped and... oh well).

I write in English. Or rather, in American. I've chosen this language because I think it is beautiful, melodic, poetic, and as fluid as a brook in a forest. Don't look at me like that, if you think I'm crazy read some good literature for a change and don't listen to the guy next to you on the subway. English is wonderful. I like it better than my native German. Well, it wasn't quite that native. I grew up speaking three languages. German with my mother, English with my father, and Portuguese out on the street with my friends, in Brazil, where we lived for some years.

Right now, it's a Friday night. I'm chilling. Having a drink (vodka bitter lemon, with a LOT of bitter lemon) and watching TV, and I'm a happy chick because I've figured out why I'm writing the novel I'm writing, where it will lead and how it will end, and all I have to do now is write it down, which isn't the hardest task in the world and only needs some patience.
So I'm sitting here and watching Castle, a silly, pretty brainless US crime show, and WHAM it hits me like a hammer.
There are words that sound similar in German and English, and yet they have a totally different meaning. And when you KNOW it's a translation, they become totally hilarious.

Serious? The German word is "ernst".
There is a German word, "seriös", and it means "respectable".
Oh, how often these are messed up!

Another beauty: "sensible". German word: "vernünftig".
The similar German word: "sensibel". Meaning: "sensitive".

Oh, and this one: "become". Strangely enough, it translates into an auxiliary in German, "werden".
The German "bekommen" means "to get".

This one is my hubby's favorite: A "billion". Hey, that's a lot of money, right? But in German, the equivalent amount of $$$ would be "Milliarde", and a German Billion would be a thousand American Billions. Bring it on, I say.

There are some more.  I'm not a translator, so generally I don't bother with these things. but just now, watching Castle, hearing one of these monstrosities, I felt myself hoping that if my book ever gets translated into German there won't be any of these mistakes.
For good measure, I'm going over the manuscript and removing every "billion" I can find.
My characters aren't THAT wealthy.