Microkhan by Brendan I. Koerner

Vivo o Morto

July 18th, 2012 · No Comments

Not sure how many Italian speakers I have in the Microkhan fold, but I felt the need to give some love to this new edition of Now the Hell Will Start from Milan-based Edizioni Piemme. I was tasked with approving the text, a job that gave me a new appreciation for the art of translation. I don’t speak a word of Italian beyond the standard food-related stuff, so I spent a good deal of time slotting phrases into Google Translate. And again and again, I was struck by how gorgeously the translator managed to transpose sentences into her native tongue. There is no greater example, perhaps, than the book’s very first line, which in English reads like this:

It is best to use discretion when confronting an emotionally shattered man, especially if he’s holding a semiautomatic rifle.

The Italian version, by contrast, starts things off in much more elegant fashion, by creating a repetition that ratchets up the tension:

Bisogna usare molta cautela. Quando si affronta un uomo sconvolta, soprattutto se imbraccia un fucile semiautomatico, bisogna usare molta cautela.
(One must be very cautious. When facing a distraught man, especially if he is wielding a semi-automatic rifle, one must be very cautious.)

I also love the fact that they reworked the title as Vivo o Morto, which sounds like one of Sergio Leone’s unproduced screenplays. Plus it gives me something to discuss with Tom Clancy should we ever meet at a cocktail party.

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