А пахнут они как-то странно

jasminasul

Senior Member
Spanish Andalusia
Hello forum.

I'm reading the subtitles of The Big Sleep and I find this:
А пахнут они как-то странно.

What the character says referring to orchids is "Their perfume has the rotten sweetness of corruption". Isn't there a more precise translation, even if it's a subtitle?
 
  • Xavier61

    Senior Member
    Spanish - Spain
    Hello forum.

    I'm reading the subtitles of The Big Sleep and I find this:
    А пахнут они как-то странно.

    What the character says referring to orchids is "Their perfume has the rotten sweetness of corruption". Isn't there a more precise translation, even if it's a subtitle?
    "Y huelen un poco raro", literalmente. "Y tienen un olor algo extraño"
     

    jasminasul

    Senior Member
    Spanish Andalusia
    Yes, that's what I meant. They have a strange smell is not even close to the original.
     

    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    "А пахнут они как-то странно" is "~as for their smell, it is pretty strange" or "and their smell is pretty strange". If that is a sentence-by-sentence translation, then there are obvious semantic losses (I don't even mention the stylistics).
     

    jasminasul

    Senior Member
    Spanish Andalusia
    Thank you all, I would have thought that at least the translator should have tried to keep the reference to corruption somehow. :)
     

    GCRaistlin

    Senior Member
    Russian
    I'm pretty sure he/she tried to but it's not that easy. To do this, he/she should at least know how orchids actually smell - to fully understand what the author has meant.
     

    jasminasul

    Senior Member
    Spanish Andalusia
    Thank you GCRaistlin.
    I'm going to disagree with you. Most of the things we translate are new to us and we need to use our skill to render the meaning as accurately as possible.
    I understand that the smell is overpowering, alluring and off-putting at once. Rotten meat, like orchids, attracts butterflies. This is why they are like corruption in the author's opinion.
     

    GCRaistlin

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Rotten meat, like orchids, attracts butterflies.
    Thanks for the info. It becomes clearer now. The translator might not know it, just as I didn't. Разложение should be used here. Они источают сладковатый запах разложения? Maybe. But сладковатый or сладкий? I still can't choose - because I don't know how orchids smell. So to make a really good translation I do have to smell them at least once...
     

    jasminasul

    Senior Member
    Spanish Andalusia
    That's very good, thank you GCRaistlin.
    To tell you the truth, neither have I, but your translation is as faithful as the original as it's reasonable to expect.
     

    Xavier61

    Senior Member
    Spanish - Spain
    Thank you all, I would have thought that at least the translator should have tried to keep the reference to corruption somehow. :)
    Well, maybe the translator had read the original novel by Chandler, on which the film is based. It's all about sex. "Corruption" is an euphemism to avoid censorship in films, the original in the book reads:
    “Orchids ... They are nasty things. Their flesh is too much like the flesh of men. And their perfume has the rotten sweetness of a prostitute.” Raymond Chandler. The Big Sleep
    As for the translator, I guess he didn't see much point in literally translating an euphemism.
    Also, "corruption" is a very ambiguous word, and its meaning changed through the time. Nowadays in Spain we think at it firstly as"коррупция", but 80 years ago it meant something like "развращение" .
     
    Last edited:

    Vovan

    Senior Member
    Russian
    I take "rotten" here to mean something like "(of an initially pleasant quality) manifested too much so that it becomes almost unpleasant (or, at least, suspicious".
    Have a look at this sentence from a novel:
    There is that moist saccharine stench in the air again and it clogs my nose and coats it with that pungent, rotten sweetness. I can almost taste it.
    pungent - 1. having a sharply strong taste or smell (synonyms: strong, powerful, pervasive, penetrating, suffocating, stifling;
    2. (of comment, criticism, or humour) having a sharp and caustic quality.
    Сладко пахнут, до тошноты.
    ...could be one not-word-for-word solution which immediately comes to mind. But no reference to "corruption" and, actually, omitting it altogether. So, :cross:.

    I'm pretty sure he/she tried to but it's not that easy. To do this, he/she should at least know how orchids actually smell - to fully understand what the author has meant.
    На самом деле, орхидеи могут пахнуть по-разному:
    Очень сложно описать, насколько разнообразны запахи орхидеи. Они могут быть с цветочными нотами. Довольно часто цветки орхидеи имеют аромат спелых фруктов. <...> Запах орхидеи может быть кислым, не очень приятным и очень отталкивающим (запах гниющего мяса и плесени).
    Запах орхидеиЗапах орхидеи
    Что касается неприятного (нездорового или, как минимум, подозрительного) сладкого запаха, то подобное реально существует: например, от мочи стареющих женщин (ссылка на обсуждение, :warning:) или страдающих диабетом. Иногда сами условия вдыхания (окружение) заставляют усомниться в приятности. Что, если я правильно понял, и имеет место в фильме (романе).



    Вот такой перевод исходного предложения также имеется в Интернете:
    А запах напоминает гнилую сладость разложения.
    На мой взгляд - идеально.:thumbsup:

     
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