Translating uncommon phrases

“Se szeri, se száma.” A simple phrase, packed with meaning, and I had no leads on what that meaning actually was. “Szeri” didn’t appear in any of my usual dictionaries. The internet is a wonderful thing!

After putting the phrase into a search engine, I was lead to a webpage I always forget that I use somewhat regularly—WikiSzótár.hu. There is also a similar French site, and you could probably find one for almost any language. These are great for getting explanations of extremely idiomatic phrases, sometimes slang, and words without equivalents in your target language. You have to do the actual translation bit on your own, but at least it gets you one step closer!

I won’t say much about how to do the actual translation—I have one client who prefers more literal translations of odd phrases, “for cultural flavor,” and others who would think I’m incompetent for taking that approach with their texts. When in doubt, err on the side of your target language. But there are so many exceptions to that…

Also, if you’re wondering how I ended up translating my weird phrase: “se szeri, se száma” ended up as “there’s no counting the number of…”

What source-language resources do you use for tricky/rare words? Had any fun ones lately?

Advertisements

One thought on “Translating uncommon phrases

  1. Pingback: On being a better translator | translation, untangled

What are your thoughts? Let's hear them!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s