Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Foreign Languages are Tricky

Look, sometimes it's hard enough to make sense in English. Why compound the trouble by going into a foreign language?

Two examples in the last two weeks from the same writer, a really good sportswriter name of Don Banks at Sports Illustrated. So the guy's no slouch. But foreign languages bedevil him. Just before the NFL draft he wrote, "So without further Adieu," meaning of course, "further ado," as in much ado about nothing.

This morning I see his story about competition in training camps, and it was headlined "Man A Mano," which everyone knows means "Man against Man." Except it doesn't. That's one of those things that everyone knows that's wrong. It actually means "Hand in Hand," which makes no sense in the context of the story.

I suppose we can't blame Banks for the headline, those are written by editors and we all know what Mencken said, "All editors are vermin."

In the meantime "Scurvy Dogs!" is going well, coming up on the finale now. I have jotted some ideas down for a new book that's kind of exciting. And still waiting, Anxiously.

1 comment:

  1. I hate being the picky person, but...

    "mano a mano" actually, literally translated, is "hand to hand." However, Spanish is a context-dependent language, so you're not wrong either in it also literally translating to "hand in hand." It just depends on the context.

    So, except for the spelling of the title being off (and only being able to go off an assumption on the content of the article mentioned) the connotation of "man against man" isn't exactly inaccurate.