i know what you mean!

“interpreter of maladies” translated

Posted on: December 18, 2017

my first thought: oh wow, Jumpa Lahiri is big enough to reach Viet Nam
my 2nd thought: omg the title!

“Interpreter of Maladies” got translated as “Người Dịch Bệnh.”   If Lahiri were maybe  Dan Brown, I think the direct translation is fine.  But for someone like Lahiri whose proses read like fluid poetry, the fact that she put pains into this title, cannot and should not be translated so abruptly like this.  If you put “dịch” next to “bệnh” it gets connected to “bệnh dịch” – plagues.  And it’s such an abrupt world.  I think had the title been “interpreter of diseases” or “interpreter of illnesses,” I would have been ok with the translation, but because the “maladies” gives the title a very layered suggestion, I would want something like “thông ngôn của bệnh tật.”  Thông ngôn is an old world, appropriate counterpart to “maladies” which is also an “old” sounding word.

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