• Yelena McCafferty

Imagine Cinderella in fur slippers...

In my previous blog articles I mentioned several examples of slips of the tongue and misinterpretations. We are all human and our interpreting performance depends on so many things. In this article I will turn to some mistranslations: written errors.


Some language scholars suggest that in Cinderella written in French by Charles Perrault her slippers weren’t made of glass at all. The French word for glass -"verre" sounds the same as "vair" - squirrel fur. That would mean Perrault used fur slippers, therefore the description of this key item in the fairy-tale was mistranslated. French is not one of my working languages so unfortunately I can’t explore this theory further.


I can however, give another example from the Russian translation of Conan Doyle’s The Adventure of the Lion's Mane which was written in English. There is a line there: “Brandy! Brandy!” he gasped, and fell groaning upon the sofa. […] He gulped down brandy, a whole bottleful, and it seems to have saved his life.»


Unless you compare the English original and the Russian translation, you won’t know that “brandy” was translated here as whisky! One can only imagine how many people tried that whisky cure which must have been nowhere near magic compared to brandy!


But both examples above are from works of light-hearted fiction. A few years ago Pope Francis said the English wording of the Lord’s Prayer had been mistranslated because it implied God “induces temptation”. The Pope approved the changes in the prayer, memorised by millions of Christians across the world, from “Lead us not into temptation” to “Do not let us fall into temptation”.


Not a theologist myself, I can’t argue on this point, however, I have checked and the Russian Orthodox Church is not intending to make any changes in the Russian translation of the Lord's Prayer.


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