Friday, September 18, 2015

in which I harvest jam

I often give Slovak translators, especially those working on dubs and subtitles, a hard time for their stilted language (where "motherfucker" is commonly translated as something akin to "ruffian"), stupidity (I still recall episodes of Babylon 5 where the term "destroyer" was translated as "ničiteľ" - i.e. someone who destroys - instead of the proper nautical "torpédoborec") and general lack of creativity. This time, however, I want to highlight some inspired work translating the English idiom "to be up shit creek" in the 2003 version of The Italian Job. When I first caught it on TV some time ago I could not believe my ears and so I resolved to record it next time it airs and check whether I indeed heard what I heard. Luckily, I had the opportunity to do so recently - and even had the proper equipment ready to go - and so I present you with the clip in question (don't forget to turn on the subtitles).


The Slovak version used in this scene is "do X lekvár kosiť" which translates as "to go harvest/reap (as in 'using a scythe') jam/preserves/fruit spread to X" where X is a location. The most common version goes "do Kambodže lekvár kosiť" with X = Cambodia and it is in itself somewhat rare - indeed this was only the second time I had heard this phrase, hence my initial disbelief. The translator is therefore to be commended to have the guts to use such this colorful phrase, but that apparently wasn't enough for our intrepid friend, because they then replaced Cambodia with Jackson for the final "do Jacksonu lekvár kosiť." Why Jackson (and which Jackson), I don't know and probably never will, but damn, mad props.

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