The Translation Inquirer

St. John’s Review

John Decker

There is no question that a great translation-related treasure fell into our laps with the recent online appearance of the St. John’s Review, nearly in its entirety over a 46-year period from 1969 to the present. The journal is the premier publication of St. John’s College, with campuses in Annapolis, Maryland, and Santa Fe, New Mexico. St. John’s is the institution that devotes the attention of its undergraduates entirely to the Great Books tradition of western culture. Many of the items published since 1969 by the St. John’s Review are either translations themselves or articles that deal quite extensively with how to translate difficult words from antiquity. Dr. Eva T. H. Brann’s most recent essay, “Momentary Morality and Extended Ethics,” deals in part with how difficult it is to translate arête as the ancient Greeks used it. A nifty 28-page index of this publication by the author makes it easy to search. Look for it at, under “media.”

New Queries

(English>Danish 7-15.1) “Closedloop communication” doesn’t seem too arcane as a nautical term, but attempt it in Danish: “When navigating in these conditions, all members of the navigation watch should use closed loop communication to acknowledge [that] instructions are heard and understood.”

(English>Slovenian 7-15.2) With a gentle nudge in the right direction by pointing out that “borrower” in the target language is posojilojemalec, one of our colleagues wishes to venture the rendering: “co-borrower: any additional borrower(s) whose name(s) appear on loan documents and whose income and credit history are used to qualify for the loan.”

(French>English 7-15.3) The phrase peintre ordinaire de la vènerie impériale was difficult for a colleague working with a text describing artistic activity from the era of Napoleon III. Who can help with this?

(German>French [English] 7-15.4) Pistons and their strokes are the subject here. The troublesome term comes at the end of this context sentence: Jeweils am Ende der Kolbenstange befindet sich eine Mutter, die durch Verdrehen die Hubbewegung verändert. Dabei ist auf der linken Seite die Mutter als Kugel ausgebildet und sitzt in einer Kugelpfanne. What is the term in bold?

(German>Italian [English] 7-15.5) In relation to aubrieta, a cabbagelike, flowering ground-cover plant, the text states: Sie besitzen ausgesackte innere und normale äußere Kelchblätter. But if you link up the bold-print adjective with the boldprint noun, you get something that proved difficult for the translator. What are these forms?

(Italian>English 7-15.6) The question here is not the words—the translator mastered them—but whether there is a fixed, commonly used legal expression (which obviously would be better) in English for the boldprint part of what follows: Riscorso per la dichiarazione di cessazione degli effetti civili conseguenti allo scioglimento del matrimonio.

(Polish>French [English] 7-15.7) A presentation about [by?] an ecologically-oriented firm contained this sentence, the last two words of which posed difficulties: Dana firma pracuje nad rozwojem technologii dla elektrowni fotosyntezy. What might that be?

(Russian>English 7-15.8) Телефонная трескотня proved difficult in this description of an accident. It went like this: Часть звонков, может быть очень важных, не были приняты персоналом диспет- черского пункта. Просто кто-то хотел сообщить со станции серьезное сообщение, но в трескотне телефонной оно не было принято. What is an elegant way to express this?

(Spanish>English 7-15.9) The troublesome term, válvula titilante appeared in a list of components whose heading was El modulo de equilibrado rotacional está compuesto de los siguientes elementos. Let me provide just two more of the listed components to flesh out the context: anillo de reglaje and tapa del contrapeso. So, what about válvula titilante?

(Swedish>English 7-15.10) No online searches, not even using Dogpile, provided anything for dogse in this excerpt from an essay from the Renaissance period: rustade med klokhet, må vara dogse att visligen tjäna staten såsom domare och sändebud.

Responses to Old Queries

(English>Romanian 5-15.4) (silicabased spin filter method): For this, including the entire context phrase, Andreea Boscor suggests un kit (pachet) care pretinde că poate izola genomul AND din orice mostră … printr-o metodă de filtrare prin centrifugare cu silicat.

(German>Hungarian [English] 5-15.8) (Veranlagungsfreibetrag): Ted Wozniak says that this is an Austrian tax term rooted in section 41 (3) of the Austrian Income Tax Act. Paragraph 3 states that if (total) income includes taxable income, an “assessment allowance” (Veranlagungsfreibetrag) of up to 730 euros shall be deducted from the other income. In English, it can be called an “allowance on assessed income,” “assessment exemption,” or “assessment deduction.” He prefers the latter, as it is an amount that is deducted from the gross basis to arrive at the net assessment basis. We await the Hungarian for this!

(Spanish>English 4-15.8) (armadura, entramados) Josefina Rodriguez noted that the original context sentence was Las estructuras artificiales se clasifican en: macizas, laminares, de armadura, entramados, trianguladas, colgadas. Her proposal: “artificial structures are classified as massive, layered, armor, trusses, triangulated, dangling.”

The Translation Inquirer is grateful to the contributors above for their help.

(E-mail queries and responses by the first of each month to with the subject line: The Translation Inquirer. Generous assistance from Per Dohler, proofreader, is gratefully acknowledged.)

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