If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com

Our September Author Interviews--9/6 Kathleen Valenti, 9/13 David Burnsworth, 9/20 Jeri Westerson, 9/27 Frances Brody. Please join us in welcoming these authors to WWK.

September Saturday Guest Bloggers: 9/2--Anne Bannon, 9/9 WWK Bloggers, 9/16 Margaret S. Hamilton, 9/23 Kait Carson, and on 9/30 Trixie Stiletto.

“May 16, 2017 – The Women’s Fiction Writers Association (WFWA) today announced the finalists of the second annual Star Award, given to authors of published women’s fiction. Six finalists were chosen in two categories, General and Outstanding Debut. The winners of the Star Award will be announced at the WFWA Retreat in Albuquerque, New Mexico on September 23, 2017.” In the general category, WWK’s Carla Damron was one of three finalist for her novel, The Stone Necklace. Go to Carladamron.com for more information. Congratulations, Carla!

Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Warren Bull's new Lincoln mystery, Abraham Lincoln In Court & Campaign has been released. Look for the Kindle version on February 3.

Shari Randall's "Pets" will be included in Chesapeake Crimes: Fur, Feathers, and Felonies anthology, which will be published in 2018. In the same anthology "Rasputin," KM Rockwood's short story, will also be published. Her short story "Goldie" will be published in the Busted anthology, which will be released by Level Best Books on April 25th.

In addition, our prolific KM will have the following shorts published as well: "Sight Unseen" in Fish Out of Water, Guppie (SinC) anthology, just released, and "Making Tracks" in Passport to Murder, Bouchercon anthology, October 2017.

Margaret S. Hamilton's short story, "Once a Kappa" was published as a finalist in the Southern Writer's Magazine annual short story contest issue. Mysterical-E published her "Double Crust Corpse" in the Fall 2016 issue. "Baby Killer" will appear in the 2017 solar eclipse anthology Day of the Dark to be published this summer prior to the eclipse in August.

James M. Jackson's 4th book in the Seamus McCree series, Doubtful Relations, is now available. His novella "Low Tide at Tybee" appears February 7 as part of Lowcountry Crimes: Four Novellas, which is available for order.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Lost in Translation

Our initial Salad Bowl Saturday guest blog comes from Patricia Winton, writing on August 10, 2011 for her blog Italian Intrigues. In it she has touched on one of my personal pet peeves. I'll be interested if it's one of yours as well.

~ Jim

Lost in Translation

Patricia Winton
My British friends and I talk about the common language that divides us. We consult each other for translations when we read. For example, when I read Joanna Harris’s Gentlemen and Players, I called up my friend Glenys. “What’s a conker?” I asked. Later when she was reading To Kill a Mockingbird, she had to know, “What are druthers?”

My first encounter with the disparity came many years ago during an early trip to England. I was staying with some people in Sussex and we were having a domestic discussion of some kind. The woman spoke about a paraffin heater. I was quite alarmed. “Isn’t that dangerous?” I said. She replied that it was normal. I persisted in voicing my concern until someone else explained to both of us that paraffin in the U.S. is wax while paraffin in Britain is kerosene.

I’ve been enjoying this diversity ever since. In teaching English as a second language, I often have to do three-way translations. Again, I first encountered this anomaly some years ago while teaching a class in Washington, D.C. At that school, American English ruled. A European student was shocked at a sentence in the lesson. “Isn’t it a ten dollar note?” “No, dear. It’s a ten pound note, but it’s a ten dollar bill.”

Now, all my students are European, but many want to visit the U.S. The textbooks I use are British, so when the word queue comes up and someone asks what it means, I translate into Italian, but explain that it means line in America. I try to limit myself to practical words that may cause trouble for the tourist, like elevator vs. lift and such like. Even this gets confusing. Italians use the word lifting to mean face lift, or general firming up of the body. It can be a bit complicated to get into how that all fits together.

To me the most shocking discovery has been that publishers translate from English to English on either side of the Atlantic. I first learned this while doing a lesson with a thirteen-year-old Italian girl. She loved Harry Potter. We each had a copy of HP and the Philosopher’s Stone, my copy published in the U.S., hers in Britain. In the scene where we first meet Professors Dumbledore and McGonagall, he offers her something. My young student read lemon sherbet and I stopped her. “That’s lemon drop.” We compared texts. Lemon sherbet in the U.S. is not a hard lemon sweet, er, candy.

And while I can understand the need to do this kind of translations for books marketed to children, I don’t think it’s necessary for adults. I’m not especially happy to see Faulkner’s practice changed to practise, but I can accept it since editors usually seek consistency. But it’s egregious when translation weakens the prose.

I reread Capote’s In Cold Blood a couple of years ago. When I got to page 87 of the British-printed edition I was reading, I stopped cold. In the passage describing how neighbors and the hired man cleaned up after the murders, I read:

They unloaded the truck and made a pyramid of Nancy’s pillows, the bedclothes, the mattresses, the playroom couch; Stoeklein sprinkled it with paraffin and struck a match.

I didn’t need to check the text to know that that last phrase should have read kerosene. The poetry of Capote’s prose with that interplay of s’s and k’s had been destroyed by a sloppy editor who, exactly 100 pages later, left in the phrase “scalding water and kerosene lamps.”

Would a British reader have been confused? Maybe. Maybe not. But a careful reader who takes joy in words would have delighted in the poetry and looked up the meaning.


Patricia Winton writes about two of Italy’s great works of art: food and crime. Her story, “Feeding Frenzy,” appears in Fish Tales, The Guppy Anthology. She is currently working on her second book featuring the sleuth introduced in that story. She blogs on alternate Thursdays at Italian Intrigues and Novel Adventurers and invites you to drop by for a visit.


James Montgomery Jackson said...

My preference is to read "English" however the author wrote it.

If the person is from the UK, I can translate any ambiguities and at the same time expand my horizons.

Similarly, if I write something, I suspect UK readers won't be confused by my American spelling and usage.

~ Jim

Patricia Winton said...

Jim, thanks for having me. Since most of the books I buy these days are printed in England, and I remain on the lookout for edits.

I did buy my first copy of Fish Tales from a distributor in England, but since it is POD, I don't think it got another edit.

Warren Bull said...

I had great fun in New Zealand with the use of English there. For example, when it got cod the weather man on television suggested "Rugging up" and wearing a "puffy" coat. I think your English friend were quoting George Bernard Shaw.