November 09, 2005

Dictionary Corner

I've been doing an Italian assignment all day, and have been staying sane by amusing myself with my Italian-English dictionary.

By chance (I was looking up 'build', okay?), I noticed that the translation offered for 'busty' is dal seno prosperoso, which literally means 'of flourishing bosom'— not exactly a faithful reproduction of tone, eh?

More generally, though, I'm always amused by what the editors of my dictionary seem to think students will be needing to translate (it's a college dictionary). For instance, 'postmodern' isn't in there (because students never use that word), but 'Amnesty International' is (in translation, it's Amnesty International, said with a comically Italian accent).

Likewise, 'Walkman' and 'Tampax' are both translated (as Walkman and Tampax respectively), but 'Game Boy', for instance, is not. And though 'Durex' has an entry, rather than just being translated as Durex, it's listed as 'preservativo' (a word which no self-respecting Italian student would use and still expect to have use for one— it's about equivalent to saying 'prophylactic').

And, a proposito of product name translations, I was a little surprised to see that the iPod Nano doesn't have a different name in Italy; nano literally means 'dwarf'.

Oh, and there is apparently no translation for 'an offer you can't refuse', which I think casts doubt on the historical accuracy of the entire Godfather trilogy.


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