M2: Unit 2: Chapter 6 – Q6.5 Answer

« back to questions                                                                                                                                                                                          » next chapter


The sentences concern Drystubble/Droogstoppel’s reflection on his son Frits who uses language a little differently from him. In both Siebenhaar’s and Edwards’s versions the reflection offers the reader insight into Drystubble/Droogstoppel’s state of mind. It is an ironic passage. Without realizing it himself, Drystubble/Droogstoppel reveals his narrow-mindedness to the reader.

Nahuijs omitted the reflection, intentionally or not.

Considering the very different solutions Edwards and Siebenhaar have gone for, it is reasonable to suppose a metalinguistic crux in the original, an instance of a speaker commenting self-referentially on the language he or she is using. Instances of language thus ‘re-marking itself, as Jacques Derrida would say, are notoriously hard to translate.

Siebenhaar had played on the variant spellings ‘color’ versus ‘colour’, allowing Drystubble to express a preference for the shorter spelling as the more economical of the two. The problem with this solution was that the reliance on a well-known difference between American and British spelling jarred with the emphatically Dutch setting of the passage in Siebenhaar’s version. Siebenhaar’s solution suggested that the priority for him was to capture Drystubble’s self-characterization, even at the risk of running into inconsistencies at other levels.

Edwards may well have spotted Siebenhaar’s problem. His solution is simple and elegant. It too plays on variant spellings, paintbox versus paint box. Unlike Nahuijs, Edwards doe snot miss the opportunity to show Droogstoppel as being obsessed  with time-saving. But although Edwards’s solution operates with variants of English spelling, it does not foreground any particular geographical associations and so does not trip the reader up in the way Siebenhaar did.