Nego, već, and katekizam

“Nego” and “već” are especially frequent and often do not need to be rendered as “but” or “already.” In fact they often don’t need to be translated at all, or rather their translation is a non-word in English, a sort of translation by omission or translation by silence. An example of the latter:

Samo željeznica nije trunula i urušavala se, nego je postojala onakva kakva je bila i u prethodnih stotinu godina, s redom vožnje kao svojim jedinim katekizmom.

The nego here draws contrast and one could of course render it as “Only the railroad/railway had not collapsed and destroyed itself but existed exactly as it had for the preceding hundred years….” But when this or similar nego constructions are frequent (and they are, as in the correlative construction “not only… but  also,” then some variation and economizing can help move the prose along: “The railway was the only thing that had not collapsed and destroyed itself, remaining exactly as it had been for the preceding hundred years, with the timetable as its sole article of faith.”

For the last word in the sentence, katekizam, whose English equivalent would in other contexts be “catechism,” the emphasis on one (jedini) thing suggests that “article of faith” is a better solution, especially since the sentence before this suggests that the RR had outlived both Hitler and the two-thousand-year-old faith in Jesus Christ.

translating digital versus print

It has happened several times now that I have found a story from my author’s book online, either at the website of a newspaper or journal, or at the author’s own site. It did not occur to me until recently–after having translated two Jergović pieces for the New York Times–that it makes the work go faster when I have a digital version of the text to work from. Why has to do with the pure mechanics of working with a print volume versus one that is already in the same medium that I will be using to create the English version. When you have to go back and forth between print and computer, there are extra steps, mostly having to do with flipping pages and typing. In a short text this does not make much difference in terms of the time involved. But with longer texts, it can make a very big difference. There are also font issues that have to do with adding diacritics–one must change keyboards to insert ć or č, š, đ, or ž into the English text in the case of people’s names and toponyms. This takes additional time.

As this book is 1000 pages in length, the simple mechanics change things quite a bit in terms of time. Now that I’ve found the e-version of “The Match Juggler” online, I can use it to make faster progress, and if you’re reading this Miljenko, it would help me to have e-versions of “Dnevnik pčela,” “Parker 51,” and “Sarajevski psi” as well.