Lost in Translation: How do you spell "Dummies" in Farsi?
29 November 2019 - 17:54, by , in Public speaking tips, Comments off

The writing and publication of my book “Public Speaking Skills for Dummies” has been an exciting journey.  And it took an interesting turn when I received a message from Hossein who told me he was translating my book for publication in Iran.  So it’s going from English to Farsi.

I was very excited to hear this but Hossein had a lot of questions about things in the book which you could say were “lost in translation” or in this case, before translation.  Certain phrases we use in North America were lost on him. 

For instance, this line “it’s easier to dial it down than ramp it up” 

Hossein’s translation: “it would be easier to lessen the bigness of the idea later if you showed it very big, but it would be hard to show an idea more big when you hadn’t showed it big enough at first” I laughed, but yes, that’s exactly what it means.

 One part of the book, I’m talking about how to dress and suggested you wouldn’t wear a tuxedo at a “community league barbeque”.  I had to explain that a community league is a neighbourhood group which organizes things like soccer for kids. “And then they have a barbeque?” I laughed again.  Yes, sometimes. But he gets the point, which is “you shouldn’t wear clothes that aren’t suitable for the event”.

Here’s Hossein’s next question: “Pardon. (he always says pardon) On page 110, you wrote a sentence about pictures of yourself like this: ‘guess how the pictures change through the years. Yup, the smile goes away’ Do you mean it makes you unhappy OR you mean the smile has left your face through years?”  I explain it means, becoming unhappy! 

Next question: “on page 131 you talked about the nerd and nerdiness.  Do these terms refer to lack of style, meaning not having up to date information and something like this? Or do you mean something else?  I’m not sure how they say ‘nerd’ in Farsi, but I told him it was someone who was a bit of an outcast in this case.   

It’s been a fascinating experience to hear Hossein’s questions and try to explain cultural references which wouldn’t be familiar to Iranians.  He has an interesting way of phrasing questions, very formal and always asking my “pardon”. I hope the translation is a great success, and I await to hear what the sales are like in Iran.