Friday, January 30, 2009

"Slumdogs", idioms and translation

According to reports, an aggrieved Indian has filed a petition in a court against the producers of the film, Slumdog Millionaire

Niranjan Desai, who worked as the press counsellor in the Indian high commission in London in the eighties, makes some good comments on how idioms get lost in mis-interpretations:

"The English cricket team was in India and there was a middle-page spread in an evening paper of photographs of the two teams basking in the sun in Indore, if one remembers correctly. The caption was, 'Mad Dogs and Englishmen go out in the sun!' I got a telephone complaint from an Indian with a thick Punjabi accent soon enough. I was asked to immediately take up the issue with the editor because the reporter had dared to insult all Indians as mad dogs ! I tried to explain to this gentleman about the origin of the phrase and assured him that this in no way implied that Indians were mad dogs. He quickly brushed aside my explanation and accused me of being a coward in not standing up to the 'gora'! "

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