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—WikiSzótá 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?


One thought on “Translating uncommon phrases

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

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