Translating nonsense

Thursday, 20th January, 2011

At the end of the Ithaka chapter in Ulysses, Leopold Bloom falls asleep chatting to himself like this:


Sinbad the Sailor and Tinbad the Tailor and Jinbad the Jailer and Whinbad the Whaler and Ninbad the Nailer and Finbad the Failer and Binbad the Bailer and Pinbad the Pailer and Minbad the Mailer and Hinbad the Hailer and Rinbad the Railer and Dinbad the Kailer and Vinbad the Quailer and Linbad the Yailer and Xinbad the Phthailer.

How do you translate something like this? The meanings in the original language are not as important as the sounds and rhythms.

Here’s a translation into Russian [1]:

И с ним?

Синбад-Мореход и Минбад-Скороход и Тинбад-Тихоход и Пинбад-Пешеход и Винбад-Вездеход и Линбад-Луноход и Финбад-Виноход и Ринбад-Ракоход и Кинбад-Коновод и Бинбад-Шутоход и Шинбад-Чудоход и Зинбад-Обормот и Чинбад-Сумасброд и Динбад-Дремоход и Хинбад-Храпоход.


I s nim?

Sinbad-Morekhod i Minbad-Skorokhod i Tinbad-Tikhokhod i Pinbad-Pyeshekhod i Vinbad-Vyezdyekhod i Linbad-Lunokhod i Finbad-Vinokhod i Rinbad-Rakokhod i Kinbad-Konovod i Binbad-Shutokhod i Shinbad-Chudokhod i Zinbad-obormot i Chinbad-Sumasbrot i Dinbad-Dremochod i Khinbad-Khrapokhod.

Literal translation of the Russian into English:

And with him?

Sinbad the sailor and Minbad the runner and Tinbad the sloth and Pinbad the pedestrian and Vinbad the Landrover and Linbad the moonwalker and Finbad the ?winer and Rinbad the ?crab-walker and Kinbad the ringleader and Binbad the ?silly-walker and Shinbad the ?wonder-walker and Zinbad the ?bonehead and Chinbad the madcap and Dinbad the ?sleepwalker and Khinbad the ?snorewalker.

(Words with a “?” are not in my dictionary.)

I like Динбад-Дремоход и Хинбад-Храпоход (Dinbad-dremochod i Chinbad-chrapochod; Dinbad the sleepwalker and Khinbad the snorewalker) at the end, with Bloom falling asleep.


[1] Улисс Москва, Знаменитая Книга, 1994. Перевод: В. Хинкис, С. Хоружий.


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