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Dan Brown's foreign languages

A discussion of the peculiarities of languages and the differences between them.

Dan Brown's foreign languages

Postby Brazilian dude » Sat Apr 15, 2006 2:50 pm

I'm reading Digital Fortress, by Dan Brown, and as usual he likes to intersperse his storytelling with foreign sentences and expressions. The problem is that many times he doesn't get it right. Here are a few examples (the expression in parentheses is the explanation he gives in English):

In Spanish:
¿Dónde están sus efectos? (Where are his belongings?) - ¿Dónde están sus pertenencias/cosas? - Efectos means effects as in special effects (efectos especiales) or the like.

mucha joyería (much jewelry) - muchas joyas - Joyería means jewelry store.

Él quiere que lo guardará (He wants to keep it) - Él quiere guardarlo.

In Japanese:
akuta same (deadly shark) - 人食いザメ (hitokuizame). Akuta (芥) means dust.

I'll read further and keep you posted.

Brazilian dude
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Postby Brazilian dude » Sun Apr 16, 2006 5:10 pm

In Japanese:

fugusha kisai (crippled genius) - fugu no kisai (不具の鬼才)

In Spanish:

Sí, sí, señor. My name is Señor Roldán. - Nobody would introduce himself as Señor Roldán, since señor is not found in anybody's birth certificate. Señor would be used when talking to or about a man to whom respect must be shown.

In German:

Du hast einen Ring (you have a ring) - Theoretically there's nothing wrong with Du hast einen Ring, but here Sie would have been more appropriate, Sie haben einen Ring, since the main character in the book doesn't know the German with whom he comes in contact.

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Postby Brazilian dude » Mon Apr 17, 2006 11:59 am

In Italian:

Venti mille pesete (twenty thousand pesetas) - ventimila pesete

Dovè la plata? (Where is the money?) - Dove sono i soldi? Plata is Spanish for money, not Italian. :)

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Postby Sparg » Sat May 13, 2006 12:26 am

Perhaps Mr Brown is mixing his Japanese and Russian. Акула/akula is "shark" in Russian.
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Postby Flaminius » Sat May 13, 2006 10:54 pm

Funniest!
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Postby malachai » Fri Aug 11, 2006 12:05 am

Speaking of Brown's prose, here are two Language Log discussions on how bad is writing is. I'm not sure I agree with them, but they're funny

http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/language ... 01628.html
http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/language ... 00844.html
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