Translating English into English

I’m afraid she did exactly what I feared. Much to my grief, the good lady editor said my book was unworthy. And she begged me not to take steps toward self-publishing, like finding someone to design a cover for it.

‘It’s far too long. The plot is all over the place. Most of the action happens off stage. It doesn’t resonate with a young adult readership. And it’s too preachy.’

I was devastated.translator

One point she made, which others have also mentioned, was that Cerbonius‘s archaic speech didn’t work. I had given him that antiquated argot because I wanted him to come over as old and provincial. But if it didn’t work, it needed to be changed, I told myself. It needed to be translated from English into English. 

Which do you prefer?

Before

After

He laughs. “I fear an explanation would surpass the scope of a first encounter. All in good time, in good time. Fear thou not. Suffice it to say my Friend let me know I should expect you both.”

“But … No one can have known that,” I argue. “We ourselves didn’t even decide to come this way until a short time ago. We could just as easily have taken the lower path down to the coast.”

“So mayst thou imagine! Once thou attainest greater enlightenment, my lad, thou shalt discover causes are often not manifest. Oh no, very often not. Powers do exist of which many people are igno-rant.” Twirling his beard, he continues, “Or, of which they prefer to remain igno-rant.” He hobbles around, looking for something. “Yes, primal powers. Later shalt thou comprehend, my lad. I fear false guides have misled thee in the past. Dark lights. ’Tis doubtless for this very reason thou wast led to me. To discover the true light.”

“I have no idea what you are talking about, quite honestly, sir. In fact, I fear you may be mistaken. Nobody guided us to you.” I turn to go. “We really should be moving on. I’m concerned about leaving the mules alone for too long.”

Festina lente! No haste, my lad, no haste! I shall not compel you to tarry. Nevertheless, I believe it is in your best interest. Thou bearest a weighty burden, is that not so?”

“I don’t understand.” I cock my head. “What sort of burden? And how can you help?”

“Grant me credence, I beg of thee, my son. Since my Friend informed me thou wert coming, I surmise He intends this encounter to offer thee relief. But, lest we weary ourselves with prattle, let us first betake ourselves of some refreshment.”

He laughs. “I fear an explanation would be too much for this first encounter. All in good time, in good time. Don’t worry. My Friend let me know you two would be coming.”

“But … No one can have known that,” I argue. “We ourselves didn’t even decide to come this way until a short time ago. We could just as easily have taken the lower path down to the coast.”

“So you may imagine! When you see the light, my lad, you’ll discover causes are often not evident. Oh no, very often not. Powers exist of which many people are ignorant.” Twirling his beard, he continues, “Or of which they prefer to remain ignorant.” He hobbles around, looking for something. “Yes, primal powers. Later you will understand, my lad. I fear false guides have misled you in the past. Dark lights. It’s no doubt for this very reason you were led to me. To discover the true light.”

“I have no idea what you are talking about, quite honestly, sir. In fact, I fear you may be mistaken. Nobody guided us to you.” I turn to go. “We really should be moving on. I’m concerned about leaving the mules alone for too long.”

Festina lente! No haste, my lad, no haste! I’ll not force you to stay. But I believe it would be in your best interest. A heavy burden is troubling you, I believe.”

“I don’t understand.” I cock my head. “What sort of burden? And how can you help?”

“Please trust me, my son. Since my Friend informed me you were coming, I assume He intends this encounter to bring you relief. But before we weary ourselves with chatter, let’s take some refreshment.”

The next steps – if any – remain to be decided on…

One thought on “Translating English into English

  1. What a shame. I liked his speech archaic. It gave him a different voice and made him more memorable. As I’ve come to learn, you’ll never please everyone. It all depends what YOU want to get out of this. Write to sell or write what your heart says. I’d still buy it if you self-published. 🙂

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