marcel barang

Letting rip

In English, Reading matters on 10/12/2010 at 12:50 pm


That better-than-thou know-it-all Frenchman Marcel Barang, who takes malicious pleasure in pointing out howlers in other people’s English copy, is not averse to producing them himself.
In his fluent rendition of that badly written, moralizing but otherwise ripping short story by Prachakom Lunachai published in the Bangkok Post last Monday under the title ‘The wish’, we find this:

Any appointment with the ripper was a long way off.

It took noted novelist Christopher New (he of last century’s Shanghai bestselling trilogy) to point out what two editors had missed: ‘it should be reaper, not ripper (which will only conjure up images of Jack the Ripper, the celebrated serial murderer of prostitutes who was never caught, in the 19th century.) Or did he actually write the Thai for ripper?’

No, Christopher, no such term in the Thai text: ‘Eek Narn Kwa Arkarn Thee Na Pen Huang Baep Nan Ja Lein Ngarn Khao Ma’ (It’ll be a long time before a worrying symptom of that kind comes and squares accounts with [me]). When one of the editors pointed out that this was no way to speak, the translator settled on a more ripping formula – alas.

I figured I’d better fess up before every man Jack rips me to pieces.


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