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View Full Version : Good Astronomers are bad biologists? Why not.



kucharek
2004-Mar-24, 12:19 PM
Yesterday I browsed (I can't find a better English expression for what we call "schmökern" in German. "schmökern" means something like reading a book you already know just for relaxing, often just favourite parts of it. A "Schmöker" (noun) is a book you read again and again and again for fun) through Sagan's "Contact". Early in the book, he describes the world as seen by an ant. One sentence goes something like: "The fresh air filled her (the ants) lungs."

Uh, insects don't have lungs. They have tracheae.
Or is it just an error in the translation?

Harald

Starlionblue
2004-Mar-24, 12:25 PM
I can't be bothered to go find the book (maybe if you gave me a page number and the total number of pages in your edition, and a chapter number) but IIRC it says "lungs" in English too.

I'm pretty sure that Sagan knew the difference. Chalk it down to poetic license. Why confuse the reader when the point is very far from central to the main thrust of the story?

TriangleMan
2004-Mar-24, 12:32 PM
If Sagan said 'lungs' and it was incorrect I'd like to think he'd have wanted to correct the error. BA wanted to hear about errors in his book both big and small. It's too late now to ask Sagan of course. :(

(sorry, just finished re-reading The Demon Haunted World and I wished Sagan had lived longer)

gethen
2004-Mar-24, 02:16 PM
...
(sorry, just finished re-reading The Demon Haunted World and I wished Sagan had lived longer)
Wonderful book. Should be required reading.

jfribrg
2004-Mar-24, 08:51 PM
Why confuse the reader when the point is very far from central to the main thrust of the story?

What's good for the goose....

Us folks here on the BABB live for the day when we can rip apart some new movie or news report that only marginally has anything to do with astronomy. One should only expect the same from others with different specialties. It's a lot of fun and you can learn something at the same time. For instance, I now know that insects don't have lungs. I probably knew this at one time, but had long since forgotten.

Starlionblue
2004-Mar-25, 09:42 AM
Well, I would also have preferred trachea. However, Sagan always wanted to break science free from geekdom, and this is why he uses these tricks in order to make the prose more accessible.

Does anyone have the chapter heading so that I can check?

Xbalanque
2004-Mar-25, 10:41 AM
Yesterday I browsed (I can't find a better English expression for what we call "schmökern" in German. "schmökern" means something like reading a book you already know just for relaxing, often just favourite parts of it.

Wow, those Germans have a word for everything!

TriangleMan
2004-Mar-25, 12:04 PM
Does anyone have the chapter heading so that I can check?
Sorry, I don't have a copy of Contact.

Starlionblue
2004-Mar-25, 02:03 PM
Hopefully kucharek will be back...

informant
2004-Mar-25, 02:09 PM
But it could be an error of translation.

kucharek
2004-Mar-26, 11:34 AM
The German paperback has some 480 pages, the scene mentioned is at page 49, just a few paragraphs before the end of chapter 2. Chapter 3 is "White Noise" - if they didn't changed that completely in the translation.

Harald

Starlionblue
2004-Mar-26, 02:27 PM
Seems they did change it. From page 37 of the Pocket Books 1997 US Edition:

... She could tell she was centered on the trail.It was tantalizingly fresh. She would think nothing, if that's where the trail led, of scaling an obstacle a hundred or a thousand times taller than she was..."

Have read the passage three times now. Neither lungs nor trachea I'm afraid.

TriangleMan
2004-Mar-26, 05:45 PM
So the German translation added an entire sentence? That seems odd. :-?

Starlionblue
2004-Mar-26, 06:36 PM
I think they just rewrote a bit. I can see how the passage would be hard to translate literally.

milli360
2004-Mar-26, 08:04 PM
I think they just rewrote a bit. I can see how the passage would be hard to translate literally.
Why, is there no word for tantalizing?

I think it's the usual problem--everybody thinks they could say it better, even when translating. :)

Normandy6644
2004-Mar-29, 12:03 AM
I think they just rewrote a bit. I can see how the passage would be hard to translate literally.
Why, is there no word for tantalizing?

I think it's the usual problem--everybody thinks they could say it better, even when translating. :)

Aber natürlich, mein Freund. :lol:

milli360
2004-Mar-29, 12:10 AM
I think they just rewrote a bit. I can see how the passage would be hard to translate literally.
Why, is there no word for tantalizing?

I think it's the usual problem--everybody thinks they could say it better, even when translating. :)

Aber natürlich, mein Freund. :lol:
Fa shizzle dude

kucharek
2004-Mar-29, 07:03 AM
I guess, it was a misinterpretation by the translator. The "It was tantalizingly fresh. obviously refers to the trail. The translator thought about that the weather/air was "fresh", like in "fresh morning air" or something like that. To make it clear, the tranlator added more context. Maybe he thought the sentence with its "It" was misleading - but actually, the translator mislead himself.

Harald

milli360
2004-Mar-29, 12:45 PM
LOL.


One sentence goes something like: "The fresh air filled her (the ants) lungs."
Wait a minute. That's English, but it was in German right?

kucharek
2004-Mar-29, 01:00 PM
LOL.


One sentence goes something like: "The fresh air filled her (the ants) lungs."
Wait a minute. That's English, but it was in German right?

For the benefit of most readers here, I posted a translation of the German translation.

;-)

Harald

Normandy6644
2004-Mar-29, 01:42 PM
Wow, this is getting crazy. Translating the translations. I better sit down for ein Minute. Oh wait, now we're intermixing! Ach! Was kann I do?!?

Rift
2004-Mar-29, 04:18 PM
There is the old (non-politically correct) saying "Translations are like wives, faithful ones are seldom beautiful, beautiful ones are seldom faithful."