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Translating an enumeration[edit]

When translating a list or an enumeration, likely from a language having no good collective term for the members of the list, yet the target language does have one, I suggest that we should use it.

We should not use it, if we would loose precision, we need not use it if translating verbatim already yielded a good wording in the target language. --Purodha Blissenbach 12:12, 15 September 2006 (CEST)


  1. The chemical H2O can in English be steam, water, or ice. Likewise, an asian language - I forgot wich one - has two distinct terms for hot water, and normal/cold water, respectively. When we find a definition using these word in the sense "cold or hot water" = "water of any temperature" = "water (the temperature of which does not matter)" = "water", then there is no point mentioning the temperature in a translation.
  2. If I recall it right, ancient Accadian, Sumerian, and probably other languages of the area, too, have 7 or 8 distinct word for tar. If my memory serves, soft or liquid tar surfacing in the desert; soft or liquid tar surfacing in a spring, a well or within water; tar used for mumification; solid blocks of tar e.g. used in trade; are among their meanings. Assuming, an original definition lists all the known varieties of tar of that language, a translation might suffice to say "all varieties of tar" instead of listing them individually with lengthy descriptions each.
  3. The English definition: "An image of Mary, mother of Jesus, in the shape of a painting, statue, icon, etc." translates to Kölsch: "A Beld oddo Shtandbeld fum Maria, dem Jesuß sing Motte" since image is (here) only "Beld" painting is "a jemohld Beld" statue a "Shtand_Beld", icon a "klëijn Beld, wat …" and etc. is likely also a "Beld" of some special kind. There is no point to have such an enumeration in the Kölsch translation, suffices to say "Beld oddo Shtandbeld" since "Shtandbeld" might not automatically be seen as part of theme "Beld" by everyone, while all other varieties certainly are.

--Purodha Blissenbach 04:20, 21 September 2006 (CEST)

Translating a poetic or figurative term, translating an example[edit]

Translating examples, poetic, or figurative speech may require to switch to working examples, images, or clean associations in the target language. Avoid twisting sense, avoid unwanted connotations, etc. Rather have the original reworked to something useful for more languages, if possible.


  1. Example from current English expression "father":
    • Original English Definition: "A person that has founded or originated, as in the father of our country"
    • Possibly good translation to Kölsch Definition: "Enne Minsch dä jät aanfejange oddo jejründt hät, wi zem Bëijshpöll dä Fatter fun de Atombomp"
      replacing of our country arbitrarily with the atomic bomb because:
      1. Unusable (verbatim) translation: "Enne Minsch dä jät aanfejange oddo jejründt hät, wi zem Bëijshpöll dä Fatter fun unsem Land"
        Comment: That is a ridiculous wording which noone would understand who does not know the original. Also there is no real figure matching the idea.
      2. Unusable, possibly wrong, yet verbatim translation, well matching the original word sense: "Enne Minsch dä jät aanfejange oddo jejründt hät, wi zem Bëijshpöll Uns Landeßfatter"
        Comment: This is a translation of the true sense but resulting in a political term used by parties and press to campaign and evangelize for the current federal state prime minister in an overly stupid way, e.g. recently Peer Steinbrück, having served a half-term as a emergency replacement head of government, absolutely not a fatherly type, was euphemistically declared Landesvater in the devoted press. A ridiculous move. Btw. he lost elections.
    • Note: (West) German would be similar.

-- Purodha Blissenbach 16:22, 15 September 2006 (CEST)