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This article originally brought to you by the absence of the letter “e”

Posted 5 years 93 days ago ago by Annette Labbé     0 Comments

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A few months ago, I was sent an interesting article that related to translation.

The said article stated that there are two complete novels in existence that were written without the use of the letter “e” in any of the words….on purpose.  So if a word had an “e” in it, a substitute word was used instead. One of the novels was translated into several other languages, also without the use of the letter “e” in any of the translated words.   I thought about it, and while something like this is possible, it would take a lot of time and an extraordinary amount of patience. From a technical standpoint, almost any other letter would be easier to eliminate both in writing and in translation.  I can’t imagine not using the letter “e” in English or in French. The letter is essential to both languages.

After reading this article, I thought about translation issues in general and while I don’t think I’ve encountered an issue as complex as “you mustn’t use this letter of the alphabet while writing or translating”, the closest thing I can compare it to is when I get emails from web designers and publishers saying that my translation is too long and I have to shorten it somehow. Most of the time, I translate from English to French….the French language is technically more complex, so it always ends up being longer than the original English version. Web designers and publishers are sometimes short on space and of course everything has to fit. Most of the time, I manage to shorten the translation if I’m asked to do so, but it takes a lot of careful thought and consideration.

To eliminate an entire letter from writing or translation, even as a light-hearted challenge, takes not only time and patience but a certain kind of passion and a creative and innovative spirit.

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