always almost : never quite

aefrizzo

Senior Member
italiano
Buona sera.
La recente autobiografia di un critico-mercante d'arte porta il sottotitolo "Always almost : never quite". Il filo conduttore è una vita di brillanti successi professionali puntualmente seguiti dal deciso rigetto da parte dell'establishment. I riferimenti WR (ci sono, anche se non in quest'ordine) non mi aiutano molto. Direi: sempre al massimo, ma non proprio, oppure: sempre tanto, mai abbastanza.
Bilingui in ascolto, vi viene in mente una traduzione meno goffa?
Grazie.
 
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  • A me personalmente sembra difficile tradurre in maniera abbastanza letterale questo detto inglese (sempre quasi, mai proprio...). Forse si potrebbe rendere con Sempre ad un passo dal successo (sottointeso senza mai raggiungere pienamente il successo) oppure sempre a un passo dalla gloria, visto che di successi sembra averne avuti. D'altra parte le traduzioni dei titoli sono sembra largamente fantasiose... :)
     

    rrose17

    Senior Member
    Canada, English
    Ciao, "almost always" is the common expression that here is inverted and sounds odd, so maybe "sempre quasi, mai proprio" might work.
     

    Zoomorphic

    Senior Member
    Italian
    Sorry Ron, it really does not. :confused:

    Edit: the idiom almost but not quite does not exist in Italian and it's pretty awkward to translate— and even paraphrase. :mad:
    È vero. Ma forse in questo caso 'quasi sempre, davvero mai' potrebbe avvicinarsi e funzionare?

    (Edit: forse meglio 'quasi sempre, mai davvero'.)
     

    PatsRule

    Senior Member
    US English (NYC)
    Ciao, "almost always" is the common expression that here is inverted and sounds odd, so maybe "sempre quasi, mai proprio" might work.
    I don't think that "almost always" means the same thing as "always almost" - in fact, to me - it means the opposite.

    Almost always - means that it happens always, except for a few times that it doesn't
    Always almost - means that it never happens, it just gets to the point that it may happen, and then (again) it doesn't.

    So..

    Maybe something like: "sempre pressoché : mai del tutto/mai abbastanza (buono)"

    By the way, this is a brilliant book:)
     
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    rrose17

    Senior Member
    Canada, English
    I agree it doesn't mean the same thing. I was just saying that it is the common expression inverted, which sounds strange and also changes the meaning.
     

    PatsRule

    Senior Member
    US English (NYC)
    I agree it doesn't mean the same thing. I was just saying that it is the common expression inverted, which sounds strange and also changes the meaning.
    To me it doesn't sound strange. It sounds beautiful. He is trying to say that he is an outsider - always looking in. Never quite achieving that which he wants to achieve and always being "almost".
     
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    Teerex51

    Senior Member
    Italian, standard
    'quasi sempre, davvero mai' potrebbe avvicinarsi e funzionare? (Edit: forse meglio 'quasi sempre, mai davvero'.)
    On reading this at first blush, the meaning I get is "nearly always, truly never" or (after your edit) "nearly always, never for real".

    To me, this is totally mystifying :confused: Why try puns on an idiom whose meaning is lost in translation?
     

    london calling

    Senior Member
    UK English
    I agree with PR and rrose about the meaning of always almost (definitely different from almost always) , i.e he never quite got there, never quite made it. I also agree with Teerex when he says it's awkward to translate: his paraphrase works perfectly, in my opinion (as does aefrizzo's suggestion 'l'eterno secondo violino').:)
     
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    Zoomorphic

    Senior Member
    Italian
    To me, this is totally mystifying :confused: Why try puns on an idiom whose meaning is lost in translation?
    La risposta è: perchè non mi sembrava male :D!
    Ma, vista la sicurezza con cui tutti propendete per cassare una traduzione di questo tipo, me la rimangio e imparo qualcosa:).

    @King Crimson: qui si dice 'gli manca sempre il centesimo per fare la Lira'
     

    PatsRule

    Senior Member
    US English (NYC)
    Ciao tutti,

    I have to respectfully disagree with those that say due to the fact that there is no known idiom in Italian, that it should not be translated "as is" in English. Because this is not an idiom in English either. This is an awkward phrase (in English as well) that the writer purposely used.
    The writer is trying to use words to express his frustration and using an idiom like "always second place" or "second fiddle" is not what he intended to do.
    If he did, he would have used those idioms in English.
    He is not even saying that he is "second place" or "second fiddle" - he never mentions that he is second to anything or to anyone. He is saying that he is trying to reach the summit, but always falls short. He gets very very close to his goal, but then the establishment cuts him off from getting that which he wants to achieve. He can never quite get to the top. There is no one else that is taking the prize. He is not second to anyone. It is between him and himself or rather between him and the establishment.

    Of course this is my personal opinion.
    Therefore trying to translate it into a witty Italian phrase, even though there is no known idiom, is what I think we should be trying to do.:)
     

    Teerex51

    Senior Member
    Italian, standard
    Therefore trying to translate it into a witty Italian phrase, even though there is no known idiom, is what I think we should be trying to do.:)
    Knock yourself out :) I'm waiting with bated breath. :p

    For the record, the expression in the OP clearly piggybacks on a common English idiom: almost but not quite, which does not work in Italian.

    It should be obvious that attempting to translate a witty twist on an established idiom that lacks a counterpart in Italian is an exercise in futility, hence the failed attempts above.

    I would not look further than Alessandrino's excellent idea (or something in that vein) based on the meaning—not the letterof the original.
     

    aefrizzo

    Senior Member
    italiano
    Da un thread, a volte, si ottiene anche più di quel che ci si aspettava.:)
    Ho apprezzato il colorito, burbero slang di Trex e ancora di più la lucida analisi linguistica e tematica di PatsRule, forse l'unico tra di noi ad aver letto il libro. Grazie a tutti per le proposte, tutte più carine :p o più eleganti :thumbsup: della mia traduzione.
     
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