Translator’s notes

The Brazilian edition of How Not To Be Wrong, with its beautiful cover, just showed up at my house.  One of the interesting things about leafing through it is reading the translator’s notes, which provide explanations for words and phrases that will be mysterious to Brazilian readers.  E.G.:

  • yeshiva
  • Purim
  • NCAA
  • Affordable Care Act
  • Rube Goldberg
  • home run
  • The Tea Party (identified by the translator as “radical wing of the Republican party”
  • “likely voters” — translator notes that “in the United States, voting is not obligatory”
  • home run (again!)
  • RBI (charmingly explained as “run battled in”)

I am also proud to have produced, on two separate occasions, a “trocadilho intraduzivel do ingles” (untranslatable English pun)


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6 thoughts on “Translator’s notes

  1. voloch says:

    What were the untranslatable puns? I want to have a go.

  2. Fun to see what we take for granted in the American idiom. I’m sure it will be another
    best seller!

  3. JSE says:


    When I refer to the “WinFall windfall,” WinFall being the name of a lottery game, the translator remarks:

    “O autor usa aqui um trocadilho de impossivel traducao; winFall e windfall. A palavra “windfall,” traduzida ao pe da letra, significa “derrubado pelo vento,”; mas e tambem usada para referir-se a uma heranca inesperada, ou seja, que foi “trazida pelo vento.”

    For “Buffon’s noodle,” he says:

    Trocadilho intraduzivel do ingles. “Buffon’s needle, Buffon’s noodle” corresponde a “agulha de Buffon, maccarao de Buffon.”

  4. voloch says:

    Sounds like the guy did a wonderful job, by the way. For the windfall one, I don’t have a suggestion. For Buffon, he could have changed it a bit and, instead of talking about pasta, he could have talked about thread and go with Buffon needle and Buffon thread (agulha and linha, in Portuguese). That works even in English (and in other languages too) although the noodle one is funnier.

    Any word on events in Rio?

  5. Tom Leinster says:

    What happened with the British edition? Were there footnotes? Personally, I don’t know the meanings of yeshiva, Purim, NCAA, Affordable Care Act or RBI. I do know Rube Goldberg, and of course home run and Tea Party. I suspect, though, that many other Brits wouldn’t know Rube Goldberg – we tend to use “Heath Robinson” for the same purpose.

  6. JSE says:

    I’m afraid the British edition had no helpful notes — you guys are on your own with Purim and the NCAA!

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