‘David narrowed his eyes, wiping the sweat mad his face with the forsake of possibly man hand.’
I’ve been puzzling over the meaning of ‘the forsake of possibly man hand’. Is David perhaps wiping his sweaty countenance ‘with abandon’? Dunno. And why is his hand only possibly a man-hand? Anyway, if he’s wavering about his butchness, he’s pretty sure of his purpose:
"Squire, she's gonna be gettin' more 'n she bargained as a service to when I get through with 'er."
And it is indeed quite a ‘service to’ that Betty gets:
He started beating her thighs savagely, hushed keeping the leather away from her pussy. Betty threw her head privately again and again, feeling that tantalizing piping hot amuse newest thing in the course her pussy. Fuck essence flowed from her pussy, wetting down her blonde cuntal curls, plastering them against her swollen pussy meat. Her thighs tightened, easygoing, then tightened in days gone by more.
‘Fuck Essence’ is a good one, I thought; must be the Boots No. 17 edition of ‘fanny batter’. The ‘swollen pussy meat’ sounds appallingly anaphrodisiac, making me think of the bowls of mince that someone near my flat in Athens used to put out for strays in the forty-degree July heat - you could smell and see them roiling with maggots at fifty paces. I must bear in mind that I am not part of the target audience for the genre exemplified here, and that ‘swollen man meat’, which appeals to me far more as an image, might equally be a turn off for men who enjoy using riding crops to thrash the bejesus out of ladies’ spam wallets - for days on end, it seems.
Occasionally, when correcting students’ writing, I have recourse to a correction code. Instead of correcting the errors, you highlight the bloopers and write above them such abbreviations as T for ‘tense’ or WO for ‘word order’ if you think the perpetrator might, after a little reflection, be able to self-correct. The most frequently used abbreviation in my experience is WW for ‘wrong word’. A touching degree of trust in bilingual dictionaries and a reluctance to edit a ‘finished’ essay leads many students to reach for the next word along rather than the most deserving candidate. I often wished I could have done this with the WWs in Greek subtitles on English language films. I understand that subtitlers work under great pressure of time, and their mishearings and misinterpretations were the best source of entertainment that dreadful nineties Greek TV could provide. In the TV movie ‘Jack the Ripper’, Michael Caine as Chief Inspector Frederick Abberline is brusquely apprising his coppers of the urgency of their mission:
‘Roit. I want you aht on them streets, door to door. Wear your boots out.’
This last phrase got into the subtitles as ‘φορέστε τις μπότες σας όταν βγείτε’ ‘put your boots on when you go out’, as though the Chief were expressing avuncular concern for his boys’ tootsies. In 'Ken Park' a lad asks his older girlfriend 'can I eat you out?' The innocent subtitler translated this as 'πάμε να φάμε;' 'shall we go for something to eat?' envisaging perhaps a shared Big Mac, in fact the last thing on anyone's mind in that movie.
In the early evenings, the cat and I would often watch nature documentaries. William was an afficionado, sitting in his sphynx pose at the foot of the bed, transfixed by flamingoes and chameleons. In one of these, peasants in some unforgiving, arid shit-hole somewhere were toiling in the fields, pouring water over the crops. ‘The peasants irrigate the field,’ said the narrator, redundantly. The subtitles read ‘the peasants irritate the fields’, which made me snort unattractively. 'Here we see a field on which peasants are pouring water,' I said to the cat. 'They are not standing about thumbing their noses at it and snickering ‘nyah nyah, nyah nyah, silly old field!’, so how could that possibly be the right translation? Eh? Chuh!' He agreed.
‘We are about to see something never before captured on film,’ the narrator told us on another occasion, piquing our curiosity with news of relatives. ‘A pride of lions stalking and killing a buck.’ The subtitle read: ‘stalking and killing a duck.’ We had a bit of a snigger at that, thinking what a bunch of drippy, effete lions it would be that needed the safety of numbers when hunting ducks. Then I wondered if the subtitlers could actually see the footage that accompanied the soundtrack. Given the nature of these last two errors, maybe they couldn’t. After all, I am pretty sure I have seen dozens of documentaries in which teams of lions stalk and kill bucks. If you could not see the image, might it not seem far more likely that a World First would indeed reveal a bunch of leonine milquetoasts, steeling themselves to pounce on a knackered, broken-winged duck? This could have been an excellent example of the sort of top-down processing I have failed to elicit from Group C any time this six months, so I will suspend judgement.
I would love to know what a Japanese speaker might make of the subtitles to the video above. In the mid-nineties ERT, the Greek state TV channel, ran a series of Monty Python episodes from the early seventies. Dragged out of its time and context, with subtitles by someone whose language level was at best upper intermediate and acquaintance with British culture non-existent, it was an typical example of the insensitivity to audience that characterises so much of Greek broadcasting, beaurocracy and teaching. Yes, I know, this sounds like an introduction rather than an afterthought. Άλλη φορά.