by Bill Grandy
“The Art of Translation” is an ongoing series of articles covering translation as it pertains to HEMA source material. It will feature tips, resources, original translations and more.
An American woman was visiting Italy enjoying her delicious gelato. Her conversational Italian was quite good, and she complimented the store employees on how much she liked her frozen treat, informing them that in America, ice cream is full of preservatives. Everyone in the store turned to look in revulsion. It took a short discussion to figure out why they had reacted so strongly. She had used the Italian word, “preservativo”, which she correctly understood to literally translate into English as “preservative”. The problem, though, is that Italians don’t use that word to mean additives in food… they use it to refer to prophylactics. She had told everyone in the store that Americans put condoms in their ice cream.
This embarrassing story highlights a myth that has become more and more common in the HEMA community: The myth that translations are supposed to be as literal as possible. Continue reading