Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Idiomatic African and not so idiomatic translations..

From Cape Town with love - some comments on how the very idiomatic expressions in isiXhosa are being translated in mass media into English by less than qualified translators:

isiXhosa: Mabayeke ukuthakatha nga bo mama nabo gogo bethu ku ma-TV ngenjongo zokufumana amavoti
What it really means: people must stop abusing the elderly for political gains
English translation - painfully literal: they are using old women for witchcraft

isiXhosa: Sithe masize apha sizokhahlela oo Kumkani
What it really means: We are here to salute our kings
English translation: the ANC is here to kick the chiefs into line

Sesotho: "Dikgetho tsena etlaba ntwa ya dibono"
What it really means: "These elections are going to be hotly contested
English translation: "This shall be a war of the buttocks".

Zulu: "Siyobona ukuthi iyozala nkomoni" -
What it really means: "We anticipate the real outcome"
English translation: "We shall see the type of cow it will give birth to".

Sepedi: "Kgankga oja nkgawane" -
What it really means: "It's a challenging situation"
English translation: "Kgankga is eating the smaller one".

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