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Answering AuschwitzPrimo Levi's Science and Humanism after the Fall$
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Stanislao G. Pugliese

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780823233588

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823233588.001.0001

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A Note on the Problem of Translation

A Note on the Problem of Translation

(p.217) Chapter 18 A Note on the Problem of Translation
Answering Auschwitz
Ann Goldstein
Fordham University Press

Levi was a working scientist and the language of his stories reflects that the language he used was one of the particular difficulties of translating his stories. The language he used could be literally scientific, with specialized technical terms, such as osservatori adiabatici (adiabatic observatories) or polimerizzazione precoce (premature polymerization)—the translator has to be sure of the correct English term. The opposite problem is where Levi describes a technical or scientific process, such as how to make a compass or how molecules bond, in nonscientific language; the translator has to make sure that not only the language but also the process are correct. Levi said, “I hope that each story properly fulfills its task, which is only that of condensing into a few pages, and conveying to the reader, a particular memory, a state of mind, or even just a thought. Some are happy and some sad, because our days are happy and sad.”

Keywords:   scientist, osservatori adiabatici, polimerizzazione precoce, scientific process, molecules, nonscientific language

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