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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
"‘I will take the Ring" - how does that work in translation?

noWizardme
Valinor


Oct 10 2015, 5:08pm

Post #1 of 22 (1151 views)
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"‘I will take the Ring" - how does that work in translation? Can't Post

Frodo says; ‘I will take the Ring'

It's either a straightforward English construction for expressing either a future event ('I took, I take, I will take')

OR the involvement of the verb 'to will' can mean Frodo's expressing intention and resolve.

Or both of them at once.

The ambiguity works well in English, I think : Frodo is volunteering (with misgivings), but we're also told that there is also a sense in which he's 'meant' to do this task (a topic we discussed in the read-through of this chapter http://newboards.theonering.net/...i?post=849474#849474 ). The ambiguous 'I will' doesn't reveal how much of free will and fate Frodo thinks is involved.

I think that a translator of Tolkien into some other languages would have a choice with this sentence. For example, I think in French it could be:

'Je vais prendre l'Anneau...'

or

'Je prendrai l'Anneau..' (future perfect, a tense that English bodges by using 'will' + the present tense, perhaps emphasising that things mostly happen because someone or something makes them.)

I could be wrong about those wordings, because it is a while since I studied French.Happy to be corrected! But what I wanted to ask was: Would there be a difference in nuance? In languages such as French, is the translator forced be more specific about whether Frodo sees himself as using his will to make the decision to take the Ring, as opposed to sating that a certain thing is going to happen in the future?

I don't think it is just French - I think several languages have a choice of future constructions that don't have exact equivalents in English. I'd be interested to hear how Frodo has been translated, and what the nuances are, and whether we feel they simulate the effect in English, or are interestingly different.....

~~~~~~

Join us for a read-through of The Two Towers (Book III of Lord of the Rings) in the Reading-Room - 13 September- 29 November 2015.
Schedule etc: http://newboards.theonering.net/...i?post=864064#864064


Elizabeth
Half-elven


Oct 10 2015, 11:33pm

Post #2 of 22 (1070 views)
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Intention and resolve [In reply to] Can't Post

Simply rendering the sentence in future tense in English, for a first-person subject ("I") would yield "I shall take the Ring...." For 2nd and 3d person constructions, "will" expresses future is the normal usage, and "shall" expresses intention and resolve.

I have no idea why this is the case, but it was thoroughly drummed into me at a tender age by my English teachers!








(This post was edited by Elizabeth on Oct 10 2015, 11:33pm)


squire
Half-elven


Oct 10 2015, 11:46pm

Post #3 of 22 (1071 views)
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Not sure about this [In reply to] Can't Post

But as I read your two French translations, one comes through as

A, "I am going to take the Ring" ('Je vais prendre l'Anneau...' )

and the other as

B. "I will take the Ring" ('Je prendrai l'Anneau..')

(I may be mistaken about the French, but neither one seems to match the English sense of 'future perfect', which expresses how actions, yet to be taken, will seem to those in an even later future, when those actions will be in their past: "I will have taken the Ring.")

Between the two, I see the latter (B.) as being more indicative of free will, with the word/tense using 'will' to convey active intent, whereas the former construction (A.) in both English and French is more indeterminate, expressing a belief about the future that can only be tested when the action finally takes place.

I agree that the future tense is tricky, since all statements about the future in any language are necessarily speculative rather than determinate.



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hanne
Lorien

Oct 11 2015, 1:28pm

Post #4 of 22 (1045 views)
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more than tense, two examples [In reply to] Can't Post

Not just the choice of tense, but the choice of verb too! French has options beyond prendre (take hold of, get, take along) such as emporter (take with, take away), apporter (bring), amener (bring along, usually a person).

My library doesn't have the French ebook, but I did find one translation (D. Lauzon) online. (via http://www.babelio.com/auteur/JRR-Tolkien/3993/citations?pageN=12 )

Je vais prendre l'Anneau, dit-il, même si le chemin m'est inconnu.

The movie seems to have been translated this way (via http://irronwarrior.pagesperso-orange.fr/phrases_du_film.htm)

Je vais amener l'anneau en Mordor. Bien que.... je n'en connaisse pas le moyen.

Interesting that the first translates "way" as "path" and the second as "means"! Translation is infinitely complicated :)





noWizardme
Valinor


Oct 11 2015, 1:59pm

Post #5 of 22 (1035 views)
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Thanks, that's very interesting [In reply to] Can't Post

So in the French version of the movie, is the translation hinting that the Ring has some aspects of personhood, and that it's not just that Frodo doesn't know the geographical directions to Mordor, it's that he doesn't know how to accomplish his task more generally? Both those nuances would seem entirely appropriate to me.

~~~~~~

Join us for a read-through of The Two Towers (Book III of Lord of the Rings) in the Reading-Room - 13 September- 29 November 2015.
Schedule etc: http://newboards.theonering.net/...i?post=864064#864064


hanne
Lorien

Oct 11 2015, 2:12pm

Post #6 of 22 (1032 views)
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You're welcome, I thought it was an interesting question! [In reply to] Can't Post

My French isn't good enough to answer your first question, I'm sorry. I'm always choosing the wrong verb when I write French! It would be nice if a native speaker could join this discussion.

For the second, though, je suis d'accord, to me it reads as saying he doesn't know the way to do it, as opposed to the way to get there. Now we can have a discussion about which Tolkien meant :)


hanne
Lorien

Oct 11 2015, 2:22pm

Post #7 of 22 (1027 views)
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And back to your topic [In reply to] Can't Post

With apologies for the disgression!

I should also have mentioned, sorry. Between the two tenses you have mentioned, there is also a distinction in how far in the future. If Frodo means to leave soon, the "je vais..." construction is more appropriate. If he thinks he might do this farther ahead (next year? I'm not sure how far), then the actual futur tense is right.

So in speech, naturally, the "je vais" construction is more common as well.

So I would think that's why both translators went for it - it's a piece of dialogue and Frodo is talking about his immediate plans.


noWizardme
Valinor


Oct 11 2015, 5:02pm

Post #8 of 22 (1021 views)
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Don't apologise for the digression-it was a Shortcut To Much Interest [In reply to] Can't Post

I'd not thought about the multiple meanings of "the way" before.

It seems entirely reasonable that Frodo doesn't know which way to go, and also that he also doesn't know the way to achieve his quest.

Translation must be a real challenge- especially a text like this which has a gigantic vocabulary and sometimes seems like a huge prose poem. For example the rock beneath Moria is "gnawed by nameless things... Even Sauron knows them not. " A translator should ideally translate not only the sense, but the sonic effect. Perhaps the nature of the target language makes a similar alliteration impossible, but maybe a new charming effect can be obtained- perhaps something that can't be done in English.

~~~~~~

Join us for a read-through of The Two Towers (Book III of Lord of the Rings) in the Reading-Room - 13 September- 29 November 2015.
Schedule etc: http://newboards.theonering.net/...i?post=864064#864064


Ethel Duath
Half-elven


Oct 12 2015, 3:53am

Post #9 of 22 (987 views)
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Sonic effect [In reply to] Can't Post

Exactly. Wonderful way of putting it!

I notice this fairly often, but hadn't tied in the "knows them not" until you brought it up here. I may have to re-read the whole trilogy again to find what I've missed!Smile



Arandiel
Grey Havens

Oct 12 2015, 7:15am

Post #10 of 22 (974 views)
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And then there's the question of 'knowing' [In reply to] Can't Post

In English, we use primarily the verb 'to know' to mean both 'having facts' ('I know what 2+2 is') and 'being familiar with' ('I know her'). But in our close cousin language, German, those two senses have their own verbs: wissen (factual knowledge) and kennen (familiarity). We kinda-sorta have some vestiges of the distinction in English - as in the old expression 'beyond my ken', meaning 'outside my realm of understanding'; and the English word 'wise' bears some (some) relation to 'wissen' - but tend to just lump the ideas into the same word.

Which makes the quote you shared intriguing, doubly so as the ambiguity of the verb 'to know' is one Tolkien would have been familiar with: In what sense did 'Sauron (know) them not'? Was he unaware of them? Or unwise to their nature or import? Was he ignorant or rash? Or both?

And does that give any insight that might relate (by way of contrast?) to your initial observation about Frodo's intent concerning the Ring? Can the verbs in these quotations tell us anything about how Frodo's relationship with the Ring differs from Sauron's? Yes, I know (ha - there's that word again!) there is a vast difference between Frodo and Sauron - but do Frodo's 'will' and Sauron's 'not knowing' add to our understanding of why, ultimately, Frodo succeeds in defeating Sauron?

Or maybe I'm just really, really tired right now...

Great conversation - thanks, noWizardme!


Walk to Rivendell: Walk with the Fellowship Challenge - grab a buddy and let the magic live on, one step at a time.

Join us, Thursdays on Main!

(This post was edited by Arandiel on Oct 12 2015, 7:21am)


noWizardme
Valinor


Oct 12 2015, 8:09am

Post #11 of 22 (971 views)
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de ya ken thase nameless things, Sauron? [In reply to] Can't Post

That's another good example - I suppose a translator into German would have to decide whether Sauron "kenned" those nameless things (whether, as you say, he knew them as individuals or knew about them as facts). Or maybe there is a way of keeping that ambiguous in German?

~~~~~~

Join us for a read-through of The Two Towers (Book III of Lord of the Rings) in the Reading-Room - 13 September- 29 November 2015.
Schedule etc: http://newboards.theonering.net/...i?post=864064#864064


hanne
Lorien

Oct 12 2015, 4:25pm

Post #12 of 22 (955 views)
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I did find a German translation of this passage [In reply to] Can't Post

(via http://de.lotr.wikia.com/wiki/Diskussion:Moria )

In der Tiefe, weit unter den Tiefsten Schächten der Zwerge, nagen Wesen an der Welt, die keine Namen haben. Selbst Sauron kennt sie nicht.

The translator has chosen kennen, and has also chosen to translate Tolkien's "things" as "creatures".

And the "sonic effect" is achieved by choosing "keine Namen" ("no names") versus "namenlos" ("nameless") so there is a second "k" paired with "kennen". How cool is that?!


noWizardme
Valinor


Oct 12 2015, 5:33pm

Post #13 of 22 (949 views)
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sehr gut! [In reply to] Can't Post

I think this translator has also got a better rhythm by using "keine Namen" ("no names") versus "namenlos" ("nameless")

"nagen Wesen an der Welt, die keine Namen haben. Selbst Sauron kennt sie nicht. "

goes all in even stresses - put namenlos in and you get a triplet, which breaks it up, and doesn't sound so good to me.

As it is, it sounds great!

. I assume the 'things' are creatures ...but maybe that has to be specific in German for the 'kennen' to be applied (pace where we were just now with 'kennen' being a verb for knowing individuals not facts.)

~~~~~~

Join us for a read-through of The Two Towers (Book III of Lord of the Rings) in the Reading-Room - 13 September- 29 November 2015.
Schedule etc: http://newboards.theonering.net/...i?post=864064#864064


Arandiel
Grey Havens

Oct 13 2015, 3:22am

Post #14 of 22 (942 views)
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Ooh - meaning and alliteration [In reply to] Can't Post

That is cool!


Walk to Rivendell: Walk with the Fellowship Challenge - grab a buddy and let the magic live on, one step at a time.

Join us, Thursdays on Main!


Arandiel
Grey Havens

Oct 13 2015, 3:27am

Post #15 of 22 (939 views)
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And poetry and the return of ambiguity [In reply to] Can't Post

I wonder if the translator had in mind the ambiguity present in the original passage when working on the German translation and, in addition to creating a great rhythmic moment, found a way to get at the sense of the English. If so, that's seriously cool!


Walk to Rivendell: Walk with the Fellowship Challenge - grab a buddy and let the magic live on, one step at a time.

Join us, Thursdays on Main!


hanne
Lorien

Oct 13 2015, 9:12pm

Post #16 of 22 (927 views)
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Here's German for the "take the Ring" line: [In reply to] Can't Post

(via http://www.kluever-augsburg.de/maria/hdr/drehbuch/entschluss.html )

Ich bringe den Ring nach Mordor. Obwohl ich den Weg nicht weiß.

I believe (welcome correction if this is wrong!) that there is really only one choice for the "take" verb here, but "Weg" would be unambiguously the "path", or geographical interpretation.


hanne
Lorien

Oct 13 2015, 9:14pm

Post #17 of 22 (921 views)
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Yeah, I love it too :) [In reply to] Can't Post

BTW, here's the French, plus one last digression (on names!)

(via http://www.tolkienfrance.net/forum/showthread.php?t=2133 )

Loin, loin sous les plus profondes caves des Nains, le monde est rongé par des choses sans nom. Même Sauron ne les connaît pas.

Not nearly as "sonic" for me, since the Sauron part has no rhythme or alliteration, though the grawing part has some repeated vowels.

It is nice that the French translators did work with the names; Strider becomes Arpenteur, Baggins becomes Bessac, Rivendell becomes Fendeval. Treebeard is Sylvebarbe (maybe because Arbrebarbe sounds silly) but I like how it connects him more to the forest. But I think Arachne for Shelob works less well.

It seems most translators leave Gollum as Gollum, but looking through Wikipedia's "other languages" sidebar I found Glum in Czech, Klonkku in Finnish, a word that is transliterated as Kxllam in Thai, and Angul in Bulgarian. Lots of wayses to make nasty coughes, precious!


noWizardme
Valinor


Oct 13 2015, 9:32pm

Post #18 of 22 (922 views)
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Wot, no 'werden'? [In reply to] Can't Post

Thank you for researching these translations! Now, my German is even rustier than my French, but I think the grammar here might be relevant to my original question.

I think this translation uses a future mood: it looks like the present tense, but is to be understood as a future action. Or perhaps you could reverse-translate it as "I'm bringing the Ring..."

"Will" is avoided. Is that inevitable in German, or is it deliberate nuance, I wonder?

I thought that German future tenses (or one of them at least ) used the verb werden (literally 'to become', but usually translated into English as "will": I do remember my teacher's joke about a German speaker complaining about slow resteraunt service by asking when he's going to become his lunch. ). So I wonder whether this translator is thinking about the extent to which Frodo is in charge here?

~~~~~~

Join us for a read-through of The Two Towers (Book III of Lord of the Rings) in the Reading-Room - 13 September- 29 November 2015.
Schedule etc: http://newboards.theonering.net/...i?post=864064#864064


hanne
Lorien

Oct 13 2015, 10:14pm

Post #19 of 22 (917 views)
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matter of formality? [In reply to] Can't Post

Oh dear, I cannot really answer you. I learned oral German only and have pretty much no clue about grammar (thank goodness for phonetic spelling or I couldn't spell it either). To me, "Ich werd den Ring nach Mordor bringen" sounds formal, but I am not a native speaker. I did check a couple of grammar sites and learned that using the present to talk about the future is considered a spoken-language construction so that may be all that's at play here - that it's the most natural way to put it in dialogue?


Melilot Brandybock
Registered User

Nov 1 2015, 9:55pm

Post #20 of 22 (696 views)
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Futur tense in German [In reply to] Can't Post

Hello noWizardme,
at first the answer to the question if the verb "werden" has to be employed in German to express a future action. In the spoken language normally the present tense is also employed for future actions. Constructions with "werden" are more formal and often used in written language. So the use of the present tense in the sentence of Frodo must be understood as a future tense. The use of only the verb "bringe" instead of "werde bringen" sounds as if Frodo is really determined to do so. Anyway in the German present tense and in the future tense there is always both included, the "I will" and "the "I'm going to" . So a translator into English would have to decide, which construction is the best. A construction with the verb " Ich will" would only express the wish to bring the ring to mordor but that is no future tense.

By the way, in my old translation from 1989 Frodo says:
"Ich werde den Ring nehmen...".


Melilot Brandybock
Registered User

Nov 2 2015, 9:29pm

Post #21 of 22 (683 views)
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I will take the ring (...to mordor) [In reply to] Can't Post

p.s. to my post from yesterday: I had to think of it once again how the meaning of Frodos words changes, when the translation: „Ich bringe den Ring nach Mordor“ / „Je vais amener l’anneau en Mordor“ (= I will take the ring to mordor) is used instead of „Ich werde den Ring nehmen“ / „Je vais prendre l“Anneau“ (= I will take the ring)

If Frodo uses the verb „bringen“ / „prendre“, then it means, that he makes the promise to fullfill the task – walking into mordor with the ring. He seems very shure of himself this way. In saying „Ich werde den Ring nehmen“ he willingly accepts to take the burden – with all consequences, even that of failure.

And this part oft the sentence changes also the meaning oft the second part:
If Frodo talkes first of going to mordor, then the meaning of „I don’t know the way“ could really simply be understood as „you should give me a map“. But in the other version, to me it becomes clear that his way lies dark before him and that he can’t imagine how he can get savely to mordor AND destroy the ring.


noWizardme
Valinor


Nov 3 2015, 2:50pm

Post #22 of 22 (670 views)
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Thanks, that's very helpful! // [In reply to] Can't Post

 

~~~~~~
Two Towers Read-through: Now looking for volunteers to lead chapters in Book IV: http://newboards.theonering.net/...i?post=878725#878725

The Book III schedule and links:
week starts # Chapter # Chapter name # leader # URL of thread
13-Sep-15 # I # The Departure of Boromir # MirielCelebel http://goo.gl/zpn7Rg
20-Sep-15 # II # The Riders of Rohan # Brethil (Part 1) http://goo.gl/yKNv7E (2) http://goo.gl/mxesBG
27-Sep-15 # III # The Uruk-hai # cats16 http://goo.gl/LUWJi1
04-Oct-15 # IV # Treebeard # Mikah http://goo.gl/2CqCXS
11-Oct-15 # V # The White Rider # Entwife Wandlimb  http://goo.gl/VXb2Ni
18-Oct-15 # VI # The King of the Golden Hall # squire (Part 1) http://goo.gl/cpEvnI, (2) http://goo.gl/BBTzvR, (3) http://goo.gl/yN7QLq, (4) http://goo.gl/7726S3 (5) http://goo.gl/VC7Abc
25-Oct-15 # VII # Helm's Deep # arithmancer  (Part 1) http://goo.gl/E6gVUC, (2) http://goo.gl/5aRuq0
01-Nov-15 # VIII # The Road to Isengard # Darkstone
08-Nov-15 # IX # Flotsam and Jetsam # Enanito
15-Nov-15 # X # The Voice of Saruman # jochenkeen 
22-Nov-15 # XI # The Palantir # Elizabeth


A wonderful list of links to previous read-throughs is curated by our very own 'squire' here http://users.bestweb.net/...-SixthDiscussion.htm

 
 

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