The Fate of the Mammoth

The Fate of the Mammoth

Fossils, Myths, and History

Book - 2002
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Publisher: Chicago : University of Chicago Press, 2002
ISBN: 9780226112923
Branch Call Number: 569 C66F
Characteristics: xxxiv, 297 p. : ill., maps ; 24 cm


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May 03, 2012

This is the worst job of translation from French to English I've ever seen. The original book isn't about the fate of the Mammoth, but about the history of geology and paleontology as understood through mammoth remains.
The problem is that the translator, William Rorland, seems to not have read enough books on the subject in English and French to get an idea of how the different languages express ideas.
The translation adheres much too strictly to the original French, without realizing that often the literal translation into English doesn't make any sense.
Some sentences, in order to make them understandable, have to be retranslated back into French (which is easy since the translation adheres so closely to the original) and then looked at.
An example is a sentence where they mention "the theory of the earth." Now, I haven't read enough French geology to know what that's talking about but I hazzarded a guess, after thinking about the sentence for about 15 minutes, that what was meant was "The development of an understanding of earth history" or something like that. Instead, the translation stuck much too closely to the original French, without attempting to see that that made no sense in English, and often the very meaning of the original language was lost, as if they can't see the sentence for all the words in it.
After 76 pages I gave up. It was just too hard to understand, and I'd recommend its Dewey Decimal number be shifted from Science to Language, as a good example of what NOT to do when translating!


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