First Watch

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PavlusBarbaяvs
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Traduttore, tradittore...

Messaggio da PavlusBarbaяvs » 20 dic 2018, 19:59

My two-bits (мой пятак) albeit quite late, on the question of how to translate «Первый часовой» (with some bit of experience in the field).

Well, imho neither First Watch nor First Watches do work. The original title uses an adjective, implying you’re to fill in the missing noun, i.e. Factory. This doesn’t work in English, as we read “watch” as a noun, not an adjective.

So, “First Watchmaking” would seem to be closer? Fair try, but no cigar, for here is a catch: in Russian, «часовой», when used as a noun, means one guard, or sentry. To anybody not addicted to watches collection, before reminding of making watches as in horology, it first evokes keeping the watch, as in sentry. I presume this double sense was intended by the original author, else he would have avoided stylistic shortcuts and simply titled “1st Watch Factory”.

So, «Первый часовой» now translates also as... First Sentinel. In the context of 30’s repressions, war-mongering climate, and most people trying to appear as “ideologically vigilant”, this can’t be neglected.

As a rule, and sorry for getting technical, you just can’t translate two words with a double meaning, pun-like ambiguity, from one language to another with the same nuances with only two words.

Hence, I would suggest something like:
Guarding First Watch.

Else: Making (or Taking) First Watch.

Traduttore — tradittore!
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zvezda
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Re: Traduttore, tradittore...

Messaggio da zvezda » 20 dic 2018, 22:47

PavlusBarbaяvs ha scritto:
20 dic 2018, 19:59
My two-bits (мой пятак) albeit quite late, on the question of how to translate «Первый часовой» (with some bit of experience in the field). [...]
Dear Paul, I am amazed! I am aware of the expressive potential of the Russian language, unfortunately I am far from being able to appreciate it, so I am delighted by your explanations.
On page 3 of the book, the author writes: С полчаса мы ехали трамваем. Потом сошли и остановились перед зданием, на котором большими буквами было написанс: «Первый государственный часовой завод». (For half an hour the tram drove us. Then we got off and stopped in front of a building where these words were written in large letters: "First State Watch Factory").
When I read that sentence, I thought the author picked up the key words "First" and "Watch" for the title of the book, and just left out the most obvious ones "State" and "Factory". Does it make sense to you?

P.S. A pjaták is five kopecks. I owe you three ;)

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PavlusBarbaяvs
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Re: First Watch

Messaggio da PavlusBarbaяvs » 21 dic 2018, 0:02

It does make sense, of course. You perfectly understood the direct meaning, and your title translation is perfectly correct!

I just underlined the adjective in 1-ый Гос. часовой завод would be more accurately—if unelegantly—translated in this context as 1st state watchmaking (factory).

Another use of the very same adjective is «часовой пояс», which of course doesn’t mean a belt watch, but time zone... I just checked Google-translate, slyly hoping for a cheap laugh, but even this bot knows this! Note its Russian-English version is the least bad of the few languages I practice.

Meanwhile (первый) часовой, if alone without a following noun, becomes itself a substantive, for which I know and sense only Sentinel for proper translation.

Knowing Russians are very strict on grammar, esp. in writing, Первый Часовой, left as a double adjective dangling in thin air without noun, is rather odd. I believe it was an intentional ambiguity, either a “politically aware” wink, or just a more catchy title!
Also, it is hardly for an economy of words, since the initials 1ГЧЗ speak readily... to watch heads.

PS: keep the change, by all means. Being quite squarely a metric Continental, I never quite managed with the bit. I only understood it was some Texan equivalent of 12.5 d, i.e. one bob and a ha’penny. Or one eighth of a byte. Just my two farthings...
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