Translation a few sentences containing "would".

Discussion in 'Polski (Polish)' started by browar25, Jan 29, 2014.

  1. browar25 New Member

    Poland
    Polish
    Hi, I always find it hard to get exact translation of some sentences that contain would. I've been reading a book but form time to time I literally can not interpret meaning of some sentences containing would. I would appreciate your help with transaltion a pace of this book, realy short one.

    "But that would be only the beginning. You see, at that very moment there were things happening away from me—things that had nothing to do with me—starting with a little something called portfolio insurance, which was a computer-driven stock-hedging strategy that would ultimately put an end to this raging bull market and send the Dow Jones crashing down 508 points in a single day. And, from there, the chain of events that would ensue would be almost unimaginable. Wall Street would close down business for a time, and the investment-banking firm of LF Rothschild would be forced to shut its doors. And then the insanity would take hold."

    As you can see there are lots of "woluld" in this text. The book is written in a form of retrospection, a guy describes situations he faced in the past and retrospection is followed by the passage you can see above. The main problem I found is judging if "would" means something that already happend or maybe something that could happen but circumstances have changed.
     
  2. Sympathy Senior Member

    London
    English (British)
    The reference is to real events in New York in 1987. The man is saying that he could not foretell them at the earlier time he is describing.

    The idiom of the book you are reading is a very colloquial (and vulgar) US English.

    But the use of "would" about something now past, but later than the time being written of, is common in AE of all kinds: "Nixon became President in 1969; he would resign in 1974". In BE we should say "he resigned", and in a more complex sentence I too can be confused by "would".
     
  3. browar25 New Member

    Poland
    Polish
    Thanks for your reply.

    Sympathy

    ".....(and vulgar) US English."
    The same thing about the movie :)

    "In BE we should say "he resigned", and in a more complex sentence I too can be confused by "would"."
    That made me confused especially because I too prefer "he resigned". I don't understand, but would you like to say that sometimes you are confused as well because of this "would" in more complex sentences or there is a small mistake and there should be "it" instead of "I"?

    I understand the general meaning of this book. I've been struggling with the exact meaning of some sentences though, actually previous post covers all of them. For examle this one:
    "You see, at that very moment there were things happening away from me—things that had nothing to do with me—starting with a little something called portfolio insurance, which was a computer-driven stock-hedging strategy that would ultimately put an end to this raging bull market and send the Dow Jones crashing down 508 points in a single day."

    I'm not sure about one thing. It's about this software applied to stocks for hedging purposes. And this "would" makes me confused. I don't know if they applied this portfolio insurance or they didn't. Or maybe he says that they could do that in the past, they used to have this ability in the past.

    And this one:
    "And, from there, the chain of events that would ensue would be almost unimaginable."
    The same thing. What does it mean. Did those events actually happen? Or maybe they haven't taken place but it used to be possible at those time.

    And the last one that makes me confused:
    "Wall Street would close down business for a time, and the investment-banking firm of LF Rothschild would be forced to shut its doors. And then the insanity would take hold."

    I know what happened later on. I know that this insanity came true :) Which means that in this case "would" means that there was possibility, those things were (maybe) about to happen but they haven't happend.
     
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2014
  4. Sympathy Senior Member

    London
    English (British)
    All these sentences you quote are a colourful description of the Wall Street crash which culminated on 19 October 1987, "Black Monday", when the Dow Jones stock market index fell 508 points. One of the supposed causes of the crash was the use of the hedging technique called "portfolio insurance". One of the results of it was the collapse of the New York financial business L. F. Rothschild, for which Belfort, the author, worked. Indeed these events did happen; you can look them up on the internet.

    The passage you quote is a commentary by the author on his account, written many years later, of how he spent 1 May 1987. The would's don't indicate uncertainty or possibility or probability or volition or conditionality. They just mean that these events came later than 1 May.

    I meant before that this use of would sometimes confuses me, because would has several other meanings, but in British English not this one. But it is good that you should learn it, for you will find it in much better American literature than Belfort's books.
     
  5. browar25 New Member

    Poland
    Polish
    Ok, I've got it clear now. This book is saturated with would's like a lot which gives me a headache sometimes. I hope to get used to it. For now my brain finds it hard to accept the fact that "would" is used this way. However I had no clue that Rothschild went bankrupt at that time.

    "you will find it in much better American literature than Belfort's books"
    I didn't even know he's written more then one :) I've chosen this book because of my interests in finance and wanna know his point of view. I don't consider him as a great writer. Btw,thanks for your patience and sorry for my English full of Polish thinking.
     
  6. Thomas1

    Thomas1 Senior Member

    polszczyzna warszawska
    Just to add to what has been already said, in Polish you could often use the future tense or "mieć" (or the past tense):
    "But that would be [to miał być] only the beginning. You see, at that very moment there were things happening away from me—things that had nothing to do with me—starting with a little something called portfolio insurance, which was a computer-driven stock-hedging strategy that would ultimately put an end [strategia, która zakończy/miała zakończyć] to this raging bull market and send [i ~spowoduje/spowodować] the Dow Jones crashing down 508 points in a single day. And, from there, the chain of events that would ensue [ciąg wydarzeń, który się wywiąże/miał się wywiązać/się później wywiązał] would be almost unimaginable [będzie/był prawie niewyobrażalny]. Wall Street would close down business [zamknie interes] for a time, and the investment-banking firm of LF Rothschild would be forced [będzie zmuszona] to shut its doors. And then the insanity would take hold [zapanuje]."
    I think that the future tense often keeps well the original flavour, similarly "mieć", though it might sometimes be interpreted in the sense of an unaccomplished action. The past tense solves the problem, but then you often lose the original connotations. In certain cases a mixture of these structures might be better or even necessary.
    Are you sure "would" doesn't have this meaning in British English?
    Here's a sample from a Britsh newspaper:
    Taught by early pioneer, Gustave Le Grey, within a year, Fenton was exhibiting his work nationwide and across Europe, and in 1853, helped found what would become the Royal Photographic Society under the patronage of Prince Albert.
     
  7. Sympathy Senior Member

    London
    English (British)
    Thomas: Most journalists in Britain have read and heard a lot of AmE. Some actually are Americans. Of course that's one of the ways usages travel round the world and change over time. But in 2014 I should expect in a British book to read "what [later, under Prince Albert's patronage] became the RPS" and in an American one "what would become the RPS".

    Also typically AmE in the sentence you quote is "by early pioneer, G. Le G.". I should have written "by G. Le G., an early pioneer". Compare "Retired American General Norman Schwarzkopf ... has died" (a random example from a US newspaper) with "N. S., the retired American General, ...".
     
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2014
  8. dreamlike

    dreamlike Senior Member

    Poland
    Polish
    I think that Thomas's way of handling this problem is a really good one. That's precisely how I'd translate these woulds into Polish.

    What's vulgar about it? I've failed to find at least a single profanity in the passage given. Granted, the style in general is rather harsh, but vulgar?
     
  9. Sympathy Senior Member

    London
    English (British)
  10. dreamlike

    dreamlike Senior Member

    Poland
    Polish
    Thank you very much, Sympathy. Yes, I was even planning on watching this film.
     
  11. Thomas1

    Thomas1 Senior Member

    polszczyzna warszawska
    I know what you mean, Sympathy. I would, however, qualify it as "infrequent" or "rare", because we can't be sure that some native British English writer doesn't use "would" with the future-in-the-past meaning -- this seems to me a bit too absolute (cases of indirect speech or free indirect speech apart).
     
  12. browar25 New Member

    Poland
    Polish
    So, what you're telling me is that I can chose between [mieć]/the past tense/the future tense]. Please give me a rope if I'm wrong but is this alright if I translate the first sentence in this way: [Ale to był dopiero początek]? Of course not in terms of translation word for word but I'd like to know if it still makes sense. The information isn't corrupted.
    I've noticed about myself that I like abusing this interpretation.
    Maybe I'm wrong but now I see that it's really hard to translate it correctly if you don't know that those events, the author mentioned about, really took place. I mean black monday, Rothschild collapse and so one. But maybe it's only because of my poor english based on movies, articles and full of gaps in grammar :) A thats why this: "...mixture of these structures might be better or even necessary" comes to me with difficulty. For now this approach: "The past tense solves the problem" works for me much better because eliminates misunderstandings.

    Exactly I didn't want to share with this "special" contents :) However the book seems to be less voulgar than the movie. But I've read only two chapters so probably one of the biggest bags of odorous excrement ever assembled in the history of capitalism is still waiting for me :)
     
  13. wolfbm1 Senior Member

    Poland
    Polish
    In the text preceding the quotation in post #1 we read:
    "We both smiled and then clinked glasses again. [uśmiechnęliśmy się i stuknęliśmy]
    In that very instant if someone told me [gdyby ktoś powiedział mi] that in just a few short years I would end up owning [zostanę właścicielem] the very restaurant I was now sitting in [...]"

    I think there are two possibilities:

    1. The original quotation (Sympathy's interpretation}:
    "But that would be [miał być dopiero] only the beginning. You see, at that very moment there were things happening away from me—things that had nothing to do with me—starting with a little something called portfolio insurance, which was a computer-driven stock-hedging strategy that would ultimately put an end [strategia, która zakończyła] to this raging bull market and send [i ~spowodowała] the Dow Jones crashing down 508 points in a single day. And, from there, the chain of events that would ensue [ciąg wydarzeń, który się wywiązał później] would be almost unimaginable[był prawie niewyobrażalny]. Wall Street would close down business [zamknął interes] for a time, and the investment-banking firm of LF Rothschild would be forced [została zmuszona] to shut its doors. And then the insanity would take hold [zapanował]."

    2. The original quotation (another interpretation):
    "But that would be [miał być dopiero] only the beginning. You see, at that very moment there were things happening away from me—things that had nothing to do with me—starting with a little something called portfolio insurance, which was a computer-driven stock-hedging strategy that would ultimately put an end [strategia, która miała zakończyć] to this raging bull market and send [i spowodować] the Dow Jones crashing down 508 points in a single day. And, from there, the chain of events that would ensue [ciąg wydarzeń, który miał się wywiązać później ] would be almost unimaginable[był prawie niewyobrażalny]. Wall Street would close down business [miał zamknąć interes] for a time, and the investment-banking firm of LF Rothschild would be forced [miała być zmuszona] to shut its doors. And then the insanity would take hold [miał zapanować]."

    Both of them sound O.K. for me.
     
  14. dreamlike

    dreamlike Senior Member

    Poland
    Polish
    I think we should be consistent in the way we decide to translate these woulds, Wolf. In your (1) I read (a)[miał być dopiero] and (b)[strategia, która zakończyła się] - I'd insit on (b) being translated in the same fashion as (a), or vice versa.
     
  15. browar25 New Member

    Poland
    Polish
    Ok, but is there a difference between. [To miał być dopiero początek) and [To był dopiero początek]. In terms of sense I see no difference. Even in my mother tongue it sounds the same to me. I also like precise rules but after all, it's about information.
     
  16. dreamlike

    dreamlike Senior Member

    Poland
    Polish
    The difference is one of style. 'To miał być dopiero początek' sounds somewhat more dramatic to me, and the construction in general lends drama to story telling I think.
     
  17. Thomas1

    Thomas1 Senior Member

    polszczyzna warszawska
    For what it's worth, it is also possible to use "...to będzie dopiero początek..."
     
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2014
  18. browar25 New Member

    Poland
    Polish
    Thanks, on the basis of your advices I see that the value of interpretation depends on the reader's sensibility. So, a subjective question is which one touches stronger.
     
  19. Thomas1

    Thomas1 Senior Member

    polszczyzna warszawska
    By default, the "would" we're discussing in this thread is future in the past, which, again by default, translates into Polish as the future tense (this is not to say it's always the case).
     
  20. Unfortunately I don't know Polish, so can't help you with your translation, but that seems to have been resolved. There is a particular usage of "would" that even troubles many BE speakers, so I hope my attempt to describe it will be understandable/useful to some:



    I think this usage is most closely related to the conditional contrary-to fact-hypothetical:In English, not “He will buy a car if he has the money (with “if” in some sense already implying a future) changing to “He would buy a car if he had the money.”
    Right away we are getting future- past combinations whose function is to clobber us over the head with the fact he does not have the money in the present and this “would” throws us into some nebulous dreamy future possibility which may-- or may not-- ever happen for him. Will he get the money or won’t he? We don’t know. It’s hypothetical for him and for everybody.
    Let’s change something here:
    As I narrate a story to you in our present, boy and girls, about a person’s past, I don’t want you squirming in your seats wondering how this all turns out, I’m going to step in with an aside to you my audience and let you know that what was once contrary to fact becomes real and achieved. We will keep the “would” form to remind you this was once a dream:

    “As a young man he struggled for years with poverty. He dreamt of having a car but could not afford one. (Aside) He would later become owner of the largest car manufacturing company in the whole world.”
    So that is the function of the American English future-in-the past usage of “would?” Is it necessary? No. Is it succinct? No. Is it dramatic? Yes. Does it have the charm of a dream-come true? Yes.
     
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2014
  21. browar25 New Member

    Poland
    Polish
    Thank you for your very decent explanation. To be honest till now I haven't looked at usage of "would" in that way. I was considering usage of "would" as something that happened in the past and thats all. Now I see that it's much deeper. In my language there is a lack of an equivalent for "would". We've been suffering from curiosity what happened next (had a dream come true?) and the only way to feed curiousity is just giving more information by narrator.
     

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