mists of time

SophieD

Senior Member
FRANCE - FRENCH
(also posted in the French English Forum)

The scene takes place in Africa, in a misty landscape;

Narrator : In this magical world HIDDEN BY THE DELICATE MISTS OF TIME, there are questions to be asked. Will all this be here tomorrow when we wake ? Or will they have disappeared like ghosts, nothing but a dream remembered ?

I know "lost in the mists of time". But here, what is the meaning of this sentence ? Is it to be translated literally ?
 
  • nmuscatine

    Senior Member
    English, USA
    If you think that mist has been established here as a sort of symbol, you might want to translate it literally. Later in the book, are mists mentioned again and again? Do those references seem to evoke "the mists of time"?
     

    SophieD

    Senior Member
    FRANCE - FRENCH
    There is only one paragraph at the very begining saying :
    From ancient times, Africa has been the place where huge cats ruled the flooded forests and swamps of prehistory.
    But "in the mists of time" is used at the very end of the text.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    You've lost me on this one:)
    Hidden in the mists of time seems completely inappropriate. The mists of time phrase would work if we had just been shown some long-lost world or some apparently primaeval behaviour. There is nothing so far that suggests this is anything other than a modern confrontation, in a readily-accessible part of Africa, between well-known creatures.
    I don't think it has any literal meaning, though. It is simply inappropriate.

    So, as you have to do the translation, I suggest you keep in mind the standard mists of time phrase and forget my distaste for its use in this case:D .
     

    maxiogee

    Banned
    English
    I agree with panjandrum.
    The "mists of time" hides things which are now unknowable because of their antiquity - they do not relate to real mists.

    I get the impression that the author you are attempting to translate was trying to say that the "magical world" has remained untouched by modern times and its future existence is threatened.
     

    timpeac

    Senior Member
    English (England)
    SophieD said:
    (also posted in the French English Forum)

    The scene takes place in Africa, in a misty landscape;

    Narrator : In this magical world HIDDEN BY THE DELICATE MISTS OF TIME, there are questions to be asked. Will all this be here tomorrow when we wake ? Or will they have disappeared like ghosts, nothing but a dream remembered ?

    I know "lost in the mists of time". But here, what is the meaning of this sentence ? Is it to be translated literally ?

    Hi Sophie - just a little pointer about this forum - here we concentrate on English usage alone, as such we cannot answer a question such as "is it to be translated literally". We can examine the question "is this phrase to be taken/understood literally".

    Assuming that is what you mean (the French forum will deal with the translation issue) I would say definitely not. Time as such cannot be seen so cannot be misty. However, as a metaphor it works nicely - comparing the hazy recollections of our memories with the hazy effect mist creates on a physical scene.
     

    DaleC

    Senior Member
    Perhaps the scriptwriter is not a native speaker. This is an incorrect use of the cliché, "the mists of time". It is not the only strained or questionable usage in the script.

    I pity any native speaker who says that an event in one's present age is "hidden by/in the mists of time".
    SophieD said:
    (also posted in the French English Forum)

    The scene takes place in Africa, in a misty landscape;

    Narrator : In this magical world HIDDEN BY THE DELICATE MISTS OF TIME, there are questions to be asked. Will all this be here tomorrow when we wake ? Or will they have disappeared like ghosts, nothing but a dream remembered ?

    I know "lost in the mists of time". But here, what is the meaning of this sentence ? Is it to be translated literally ?
     
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