What a passion! A small note on translating slang

How would you translate «passion pit«? In a straight forward, literal manner, the two words are fairly easy to understand and communicate.

While translating literature, however I have come accross various idiomatic phrases that one has to decipher in order to be able to translate effectively. It is necessary to know all the dessous of many factors: the period the text was written, the environment/age/social group of the speaker and many more, that constitute the ‘register‘ of a text in sociolinguistic terms.

And this is one of the most intriguing, difficult, compelling and dangerous elements of our job. Hound dog might refer to an Elvis song (or might just be a noun-adjective phrase, you have to decide before attempting to translate), another word might hint to a popular meme, a trending article, a news story, a historic detail or person.The creative role of the translator is always there, mostly called for in literary translation but useful and often necessary in almost all translation types. Would you consider any type of translation not creative? I find that even weather reports and user manuals often need to convey a special tone or style.

And the difficulty lies not only in unearthing and discovering it, but knowing where to stop, too!

Passion Pit are an American electropop band from Cambridge, Massachusetts, formed in 2007. The band culled their name from the Variety Slanguage Dictionary, a glossary of Variety‘s frequently-used slang, which was provided by the Hollywood Insider publication to help not-so-savvy readers decipher its content. The magazine used the term to refer to drive-in theatres, because of their privacy and romantic allure for teenagers.

Baby, don't be unhappy/Baby, don't be sad/Better things are coming/I swear there's truth in that

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