distil a sentence into its essence

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jasminasul

Senior Member
Spanish Andalusia
Hello,

I would be very grateful if you could help me with this sentence, I'm stuck.

I'm trying to use a metaphor of distillation in an alembic to illustrate the subtitling process.

A good subtitler wears many hats, but is above all a master alchemist *, able to distil a sentence into its essence and still be able to convey all the relevant information while preserving idiomacity.

* [not sure about this yet]
** [a still is also an alembic, and it also clashes with "distil" so not happy with this]

into its essence in a way that conveys? :rolleyes:
 
  • Edinburgher

    Senior Member
    German/English bilingual
    I've never heard of an alembic, but I gather it's a vessel used for distillation of fluids.
    I don't understand your doubt about clashes. Your extract does not use the word alembic or retort or the verb distil used in its chemical sense.
    I find your metaphor of distilling parts of a sentence very good, in that your are extracting the essential parts.
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Yes, I like it too, apart from the repeat of being able and the word idiomacity, which doesn’t seem to exist.
     

    bibliolept

    Senior Member
    AE, Español
    I can see how alchemy might be related to concepts of distillation/refining/purification or the like, I don't know that the connection is so obvious without more of an explanation.

    That said, you could keep the sentence as it was above. My one quibble is that there's something of a tonal mismatch between the cliche "wears many hats" and the more poetic and more, well, refined language of "above all a master alchemist."

    NB: The repetition of "able to" would best be avoided in an already lengthy, complex sentence. In AE, at least, it'd be two ls for "distill."
    I'm also more familiar with idiomaticity than with "idiomacity." In either case, these are not words to trot out before the average reader, so I would consider rephrasing that as well.
    One alternative: ... able to distill a sentence into its essence while idiomatically conveying all relevant information.
     

    jasminasul

    Senior Member
    Spanish Andalusia
    This is all very helpful, all great points. Thank you Edinburgher, lingobingo, Keith and bibliolept.

    I am going to leave this till tomorrow. Today seems to be one of those days :)
     

    jasminasul

    Senior Member
    Spanish Andalusia
    I agree, I do like it a lot.
    I have also deleted the hats bit, thank you. :)
    Everything seems to be "adapted" to the average reader nowadays. This is the only thing I disagree about. :)
    We seem to have dumbed down our vocabulary in the last hundred years but since my website will be targeting translation agencies mainly I hope it's not too highbrow.
    Thank you again. I don't seem able to put one word in front of the other today.
     

    suzi br

    Senior Member
    English / England
    Bibliolept’s comments add up to subtle observations about tone and consistency. It’s not that everything must be “dumbed down”. Language is constantly evolving; that evolution always stresses some people. I could find you commentators down the ages who’ve expressed similar fears about modern usage compared to some golden time that always slightly predates their own birth!

    Hopefully your audience of translation agencies will enjoy a bit of distilled metaphor.

    What they’d enjoy less is the mix of tones / metaphors involved when you bring the hats into it.
     

    jasminasul

    Senior Member
    Spanish Andalusia
    That's not what I meant at all. I loved bibliolept's post and I said I had deleted the hats bit.

    I'm not concerned about the evolution of language, but rather about the devolution of man.
     

    suzi br

    Senior Member
    English / England
    That's not what I meant at all. I loved bibliolept's post and I said I had deleted the hats bit.

    I'm not concerned about the evolution of language, but rather about the devolution of man.
    I understood what you “agreed” with. I was taking issue with what you said you disagreed with.

    My point is that people have always made that equation between language change and greater decline.
     
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