I browsed through DailyPrompts today and picked out Opaque.
Why, you’d ask? I have absolutely no idea, to tell you the truth. The first thing that came to my mind was, opaque-marengo…
No, please do not think I have gone of the rockers here. I am not crazy and am not on any prohibited substances. I hope you will understand what I am talking about by the end of this post.
Let’s start from the beginning
Definition of the word opaque (www.dictionary.com) states the following:
1.not transparent or translucent; impenetrable to light; not allowing light to pass through.
not transmitting radiation, sound, heat, etc.
3.not shining or bright; dark; dull.
What does it have to do with MARENGO?
On the surface – absolutely nothing.
Marengo is the colour, grey colour to put it plainly… Opague, grey… see the similarities? I do. However, this is not my point.
My point is more: opaque – dull, not allowing ‘light’ to pass through
I learnt the meaning of ‘marengo’ a few years ago. I was preparing for an academic conference on translation in literature, pulp fiction to be precise. I picked out 2 novels by James Hadley Chase and their translations into Russian Language.
NOTE: Once upon late 80s and early 90s Chase was extremely popular in the ex USSR. His paperbacks with barely clothed girls on the covers were everywhere. Somehow, I missed all the hype only to get involved with Chase much much later.
To my surprise, first, annoyance, second and utter disappointment at the end, the translations were… opaque. There were many words translated incorrectly. There were many terms, slang, phrases translated ‘creatively’.
Thus, a fiery-red dress of the main female character in You’re Lonely When You’re Dead
became MARENGO in Russian (From red to grey????)
I am not sure what Translators were trying to achieve doing a very mediocre job. May be they were rushed. May be they were playing on the ‘word effect’ (marengo does sound exotic). Or may be, in the words of the translator herself, they could not have been bothered. ‘We are all intelligent people, can figure it out’.
Opaque, don’t you think?
I guess, that’s my daily prompt for today