1. Exquisite Tweets from @EmilyRCWilson

    PreoccupationsCollected by Preoccupations

    So that you can all feel my pain, here are a few more reasons why it's more or less impossible to translate Homer into English in a satisfactory way.

    Reply Retweet Like

    EmilyRCWilson

    Dr Emily Wilson

    1. There aren't enough words in English for people or things going very fast through space that don't sound mechanical ("zoom") or super-hero-y ("swoosh") or 1950's-home-maker-y ("pop", "bustle", "dash").

    Reply Retweet Like

    EmilyRCWilson

    Dr Emily Wilson

    2. There aren't enough onomatopoeic words for very loud chaotic noises.

    Reply Retweet Like

    EmilyRCWilson

    Dr Emily Wilson

    3. "Many", especially when repeated over and over, sounds childish; repeating "lots of" sounds worse. There are not enough words for large numbers of people or objects, and those we have ("multitude", "plethora", "myriad") are often too pompous to use repeatedly.

    Reply Retweet Like

    EmilyRCWilson

    Dr Emily Wilson

    4. Similarly, there aren't enough non-babyish, non-silly ways to say that something is very big/ large/ ginormous/ massive/ huge/ vast/ jumbo/ whopping / titanic/ hefty/Brobdignagian.

    Reply Retweet Like

    EmilyRCWilson

    Dr Emily Wilson

    5. It's very hard to come up with enough ways to describe intense desire to act that don't connote modern psychology; "motivation", "aggression", "impetus", "drive", & "impulse" risk sounding anachronistic, and "yearning" and "zeal" have different wrong connotations.

    Reply Retweet Like

    EmilyRCWilson

    Dr Emily Wilson

    6. Terms for social rank imply a particular wrong social order. "King" suggests monarchy. "Chief" has several connotations, none quite right. "General", "Marshal", "Officer" etc. suggest an established military hierarchy. "Mr" & "Sir" suggest business suits.

    Reply Retweet Like

    EmilyRCWilson

    Dr Emily Wilson

    7. There is no common English word of four syllables or fewer connoting "person particularly favored by Zeus due to high social status, and by the way this is a very normal ordinary word which is not drawing any special attention to itself whatsoever, beyond generic heroizing".

    Reply Retweet Like

    EmilyRCWilson

    Dr Emily Wilson