‘He had learned that one could refuse to suffer, […].’
– Nooteboom. C. 1980. Rituelen [Rituals] Amsterdam, The Netherlands: De Bezige Bij (2009) p .126
“When a memory fails to appear, it seems as though the time when it was created did not really exist, and maybe that is true. Time itself is nothing; only the experience of it is something. When that dies, it assumes the form of a denial, the symbol of mortality, what you have already lost before you lose everything. When his friend had said something similar to his father, his response had been, If you had to retain everything, you’d explode. There’s simply not enough space for it all. Forgetting is like medicine; you have to take it at the right time.”
‘Latin is the being, French the thought, Spanish the fire, Italian the air (I said ‘aether’ of course), Catalan the earth, and Portuguese the water.’
– Nooteboom C. 1991. Het Volgende Verhaal [The Next Story] Amsterdam, The Netherlands: Uitgeverij De Arbeiderspers (1991) p. 28
Untranslatability is a property of a text, or of any utterance, in one language, for which no equivalent text or utterance can be found in another language when translated.
Terms are, however, neither exclusively translatable nor exclusively untranslatable; rather, the degree of difficulty of translation depends on their nature, as well as on the translator’s knowledge of the languages in question.
Quite often, a text or utterance that is considered to be untranslatable is actually a so-called lacuna, or lexical gap. That is, there is no one-to-one equivalence between the word, expression or turn of phrase in the source language and another word, expression or turn of phrase in the target language. A translator can, however, resort to a number of translation procedures to compensate for this.
‘Never again shall there be a language like Latin, never again shall precision and beauty embrace in such unity. All our languages have too many words, take a look at all those bilingual publications, on the left the few and measured words, the sculptured sentences, on the right the full page, the traffic-jam, the queue of words, the unsightly dribble.’
– Nooteboom C. 1991. Het Volgende Verhaal [The Next Story] Amsterdam, The Netherlands: Uitgeverij De Arbeiderspers (1991) p. 13
“I had a thousand lives and I only took one!”
– Cees Nooteboom
‘I have my dinner while sitting on a kitchen stool at the kitchen table, opposite a reproduction of a scene painted in the sixth century before Christ (who has been so impertinent to seize the centuries before him as well) by Prithinos at the bottom of the bowl, Peleus wrestling Thetis.’
‘Gondolas are atavistic.’