Mermen and Latin Languages - Help!

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caranha
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Mermen and Latin Languages - Help!

Post by caranha »

Hello folks!

I'm proceeding with the Portuguese - Brazil translation, but I've hit a small problem, that might have already happened to other latin languages translators:

How to you translate the generic "merfolk"?

In portuguese, we have a word for triton/merman (tritao) and for mermaid (sereia), but there is no such word that put both sexes together. Worse yet, "tritao" excludes female beings, and "sereia" excludes male beings.

So far, whenever I had to translate "merfolk" or "mermen", I tried to walk around it by using "sea people" or something similar. However, that does not work with, for instance, Bay of Pearls, where Naga are also sea people (let's free the *?).

I have tried a few solutions (like using "tritons and mermaids") but they're not elegant at all. So I would like to ask for suggestions!

Thanks!
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Claus Aranha
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tephlon
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Post by tephlon »

I don't know how much Swedish is counted among the latin languages (for all I know it belongs to the german...ian? language group) but we've also had problems with this. We settled for translating the unit "Merman" - as well as the people as a whole - to the Swedish counterpart of "Sea folk" or "Sea people". This translation of course sort of castrates this particular unit, but it works.

We haven't translated Naga, which gives us pain at times (for instance its plural form), but we manage :)
autolycus
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Post by autolycus »

Is it possible to imply 'fish people' = merfolk and 'snake people' = nagas?
as kingfishers catch fire
so dragonflies draw flame
-GMH
Dacyn
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Post by Dacyn »

Maybe you could make up a word like 'trit-'(portuguese for 'people'); after all, 'merfolk' is made up IIRC.
caranha
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Post by caranha »

Well, I actually like Autolycus suggestion. The translated text will depart a little from a literal translation but, hey, that's what translation is about, right? The only thing that worries me is when they start doing the merfolk tree, but I'll deal with that later.

Trit-something wouldn't work (syllabe separation would go on Tri- which is a prefix for something else). I could use Tritoa (where oa is a feminine suffix), but it wouldn't solve my problem for the gender neutral word (common sense says that tritao is only masculine). Unfortunately, latin languages are less forgiving of neologisms than their anglo-saxon counterparts.

Thanks all for the replies! :)
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Claus Aranha
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autolycus
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Post by autolycus »

Maybe 'merfolk' = 'fish people', things like 'siren' would be 'fish singer' and so on. I think that as long as it gives some reasonable idea of what the unit is all about, it should be ok.

So 'nagas' = 'snake people', 'sea hag' = 'snake mistress' or something...
as kingfishers catch fire
so dragonflies draw flame
-GMH
mpolo
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Post by mpolo »

Mer- is from the Germanic root meaning "sea", so merman and mermaid are literally sea man and sea maid. I started doing the Latin translation for laughs -- I made them Nereids (overlooking the fact that those are only female of course...).
DarkAmex
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Post by DarkAmex »

In Italian I have traslated them as 'Nereidi' (greek mitological sea abitants) or "Neptunian" for merman

Naga and naghini for now are untraslated
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Jetrel
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Post by Jetrel »

Naga and Nagini should not be translated, save to preserve pronunciation. They are not even english words, rather they come from Indian mythology. You can modify it to allow for proper pluralization, although, I personally would just drop the plural form altogether, just to be safe.

This is in the same way that it would be wrong to translate Djinn to something else.

Mermen/Mermaids, and all of their names should be translated.
Also - go ahead with Tritao - all of the Tritons are male. The "Trit-" I believe referred to their tridents, FWIW.
pstradomski
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Naga and naghini

Post by pstradomski »

Well, it would be strange if we left Naga untranslated in Polish (well, it is untranslated at the moment, but it probably won't be that way long).

'Naga' in polish has a meaning. It means 'nude'. Besides it becomes a problem when you want to decline it (and we have to, for example in Bugg's speach in Bay of Pearls). The only sane way of declination I can think of follows the way adjective 'nagi/naga' follows (and you know what this means).

What do you think of translating it as something like snake-people (I translated mermen as fish-people)?
autolycus
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Re: Naga and naghini

Post by autolycus »

pstradomski wrote:What do you think of translating it as something like snake-people (I translated mermen as fish-people)?
That was my suggestion a few months ago... see above! :)

Therefore I think it was an excellent idea and it still is. :D
as kingfishers catch fire
so dragonflies draw flame
-GMH
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