My husband’s a bigger John Wayne fan that me (our pet goldfish is a bigger John Wayne fan than me, but that’s beside the point). He grew up in Brazil watching and loving the old John Wayne movies.
“I do love his ‘swagger’ though” I admitted.
“You mean his “arrastando pé?” my husband asked, providing the popular Brazilian descriptor for Wayne’s walking style, which, translated, literally means “dragging his feet.”
Which brings to mind for me the phrase “something the cat dragged in.” Hmmm. Not very “John Waynish.”
When speaking a foreign language (or for any newer writers in English, regardless of native language), it’s much easier to use “being verbs.” In Portuguese I pretty much “sou” (am) or “fui” (went) everywhere.
But think of the difference between “I am hungry. I went to the kitchen” and “I’m starving. I hurtled into the kitchen.”
Or maybe I sauntered, or I tiptoed or tottered into the kitchen. In the first I’m in an evening gown, the second I’m sneaking cookies, in the third perhaps I’ve had a cocktail or two.
Just a ponderous look at language…the subtle differences in word choice to convey powerful differences in meaning. And food for thought when reading or directing translation projects.
It’s not only a question of picking the right word in Spanish or Chinese or Czech, but the right word to create the desired visual image or feeling…and sticking with that word even if it’s not the one we would have chosen in our own language.
How was your morning? Did you pop or roll out of bed?
Photo credit: Cinemascope