Ready for a new collection?
A comment in another thread in this forum reminded me that some expressions are extremely difficult to translate. I'd like to start a collection of these 'Untranslatables'.
You can either post an 'Untranslatable', or offer a suggested translation for an earlier 'Untranslatable'.
So what counts as an 'Untranslatable'? I kind of know what I mean by this, but haven't fully thought it out yet, so bear with me if I change the rules a couple of times during the game, to define it better and make it more fun.
An 'Untranslatable' should be something that would stop a translator in his tracks, and send him off to resources, friends, the author, the publisher, anywhere trying to come up with some ideas.
It does *not* include just plain difficult or rare words, which could be translated simply by finding the exact right rare dictionary or reference work. It doesn't mean, 'can't be easily translated in one word', so tired old canards like "you can't translate 'sympatisch', or 'gemuetlich' " are definitely out. Translators all over Germany translate these two words all the time. 'The Jabberwocky' is an interesting edge case, as you could either call it untranslatable, or the easiest thing in the world to translate.
Here's the candidate 'Untranslatable' I recently found in another topic in this forum:
'Der Dativ ist dem Genetiv sein Tod.'
Can this be translated into English? How? To me, 'The dative will be the death of the genitive case' just doesn't capture the succint brilliance of the original. Can it be improved?
I'd like to see several examples of your 'Untranslatables' first, before anyone offers a translation, so please think of your best 'Untranslatables' and post them here!