What I love about writing this week is how important one single word can be. One word can change what you think of a character. One word can create a sense of danger or any other emotion. One single word. But the problem with that ability is that you have to choose the right one. The wrong word is worse than no word at all.
That’s what happens with translation though. The wrong words are used as stand-ins because there is really no perfectly appropriate word for what you are trying to say. These are some of my favourite examples of that:
Iktsuarpok: This is an Inuit word for the feeling of waiting for someone so you keep going outside to see whether or not that person has arrived.
Pålegg: A Norwegian word for anything that can go on a sandwich. Literally anything.
Cafune: The literal translation into English from Brazilian Portuguese is “to tenderly run your fingers through your lover’s hair.”
If you want more untranslatable words, look here: Untranslatable Words
In other news, look: Episode 3: Intrusions. Aren’t you so excited to see what happens to Stan this week?
I bring up untranslatable words because, even from English to English, words are hard to fit together. People say, “Oh, you’re using that word too much. Here’s a thesaurus.” But the problem is, you’ve usually chosen the word you want because it is that specific word. Maybe you haven’t done that consciously, but you did do it. But, you take the advice of the people who say that you need to look at some synonyms. And then you read the definitions of those synonyms, and though technically they mean the same thing, they are literally different. So it seems you have quite the conundrum. Quandary is a synonym of conundrum, but you don’t actually have a quandary if you have a conundrum. A conundrum is "a difficult problem", whereas a quandary is "a state of uncertainty". They are technically synonyms. They are literally different.
I bring all this up only because it is relevant. Stage directions for this episode say: Stan pushes open the door. He looks at the envelope on his desk, then at the other desk. He (Stan) looks confused by the other desk. Pan from Stan’s face to above shot. Show Stan moving into the office. So, I have to convey that by saying, essentially: Stan Mulder arrived at his office to discover two things: a manila envelope and a second desk.
Not exactly the same thing, are they. If you want help choosing the right word, there are a lot of videos on youtube. I recommend this one: Choosing the Right Words for your Objectives
Photo Credit: bnbn