Wednesday, 16 September 2015

A Note on Dear

Unfortunately, mistakes in translation can indeed cause problems of the size of a war and can bring really bad consequences to individuals: From losing their profession to losing their human rights in first world democracy.

For those who don't give value to the lexicon and to really good translators, and the really good translators would be those to worry the most about accuracy, here is a great lesson.

Basically, Brazil told us, and that was at least during our 9 years plus something of formal studies on the English language, that Dear was used in formal contexts to show politeness and respect. The equivalent that they gave us was Cara or Caro, which are used in formal correspondence in Brazil, basically business correspondence or when we want to impose maximum respect, maximum distance, between that who writes and that who reads, but this distance has no connection to any title, so that it is not because they are PhDs or presidents, but because they are people and we want them to understand it is all, or it all should be, extremely formal and distant.

As an example of the word in context, we have 

Por isso, caro leitor, não se engane

This is found on extract. It is a good example to show the difference in sense because this is the most common application of the word in the Portuguese language and this is a context of contact with an unknown reader (because of this, dear reader, do not be mistaken). 

It is here that we can see that the Australian person could easily read this sentence and think that we are calling the reader darling or treating them as someone that we really respect. Culturally, however, the sense is way another: We try to produce a polite thing and, at the same time, make it clear that we have no personal attachment, like we really have no attachment, of any sort, to the person. It is a way of expressing obligation to communicate, perhaps because we ourselves feel obliged to do it, but, at the same time, make it clear that there is nothing personal to it, so that this is definitely a completely different sense of that intended by the English language. Because in some contexts it will coincide with the English sense, however, they have generalized its meaning to force the equivalency. We have addressed this issue when we wrote about partial gaps (Logical Divergence).

Nowadays, The Free Dictionary tells us that dear in the just-given sense is obsolete. They say therefore that in the distant past it was a synonym for politeness and respect (the senses they bring are noble and worthy), but now it is something to do with loved and cherished, precious, and stuff like that. 

A Brazilian woman relying on such an equivocated couple of equivalents, and we can now tell that Dear was never the equivalent to Cara or Caro, thanks to the Free Dictionary, could, for instance, lose a claim about harassment because all the time she was being formal in her communications with her boss or supervisor, but everyone else thought that she was calling him Darling. 

That is when we realize that people who do not give value to translation and interpretation can only be insane. 

See (dictionary):

      dear 1

          adj. dear·erdear·est
a. Loved and cherished: my dearest friend.
b. Greatly valued; precious: lost everything dear to them.
2. Highly esteemed or regarded. Used in direct address, especially in salutations: Dear Lee Dawson.
a. High-priced; expensive.
b. Charging high prices.
4. Earnest; ardent: "This good man was a dear lover and constant practicer of angling" (Izaak Walton).
5. Obsolete Noble; worthy.
6. Heartfelt: It is my dearest wish.
1. person who is greatly loved. Often used as a form of address.
2. An endearing, lovable, or kind person: What a dear she is!

Used as a polite exclamation, chiefly of surprise or distress: oh dear; dear me.

[Middle English derefrom Old English dēore.]

dear′ly adv.

dear′ness n.

dear 2

Severe; grievous; sore: our dearest need.

[Middle English derefrom Old English dēor.]

American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2011 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.


1. beloved; precious
2. used in conventional forms of address preceding a title or name, as in Dear Sir or my dear Mr Smith
3. (foll by: toimportant; close: wish dear to her heart.
a. highly priced
b. charging high prices
5. appealing or pretty: what a dear little ring!.
6. for dear life urgently or with extreme vigour or desperation

7. used in exclamations of surprise or dismay, such as Oh dear! and dear me!

8. (often used in direct addresssomeone regarded with affection and tenderness; darling

9. dearly: his errors have cost him dear.

[Old English dēore; related to Old Norse dӯrr]
ˈdearness n
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003

No comments:

Post a Comment