Culture – as mentioned before – is one of the most difficult nuts to crack in the translation process. Recent political changes in Poland have led to a plethora of new and odd words entering the language. Some examples include:
łże-elity, bure suki, lumpen liberałowie, wykształciuchy
How does one set about translating phrases that are very much particular to one culture and not another? Practically all these phrases were coined by a particular group of politicians.
Let us start with the first phrase łże-elity which (to provide a very limited gloss) refers to a group of people who allegedly run the country and have come to power through their deceit. The phrase might be roughly translated as the ‘lying elite‘. However, it must be added that the Polish collocation łżeć jak pies (‘to lie like a dog’) is worth noting. The implications of this phrase are therefore not positive. Another interesting translation might be the ‘decepto-elite’ (however, this has a rather Sci-Fi ring to it).
The phrase bure suki is once again a reference to dogs and has similar connotations (a dark, shadowy elite) but is perhaps more to the point. It might be roughly translated as ‘dirty bitches’ or ‘drab dogs’. Again, not a nice phrase.
Lumpen liberałowie is another interesting construct which of course is a perverted version of the Marxist phrase lumpenproletariat and thus could be easily rendered as ‘lumpen liberals’ or ‘lowly liberals’ – whichever one prefers.
Wykształciuchy is a controversial formulation which takes the positive word wykształcony (‘educated’) and appends a suffix which has a negative connotation. The meaning is something akin to ‘clever clogs’, although the context is again more sinister – the word is an open attack on intellectuals who believe liberalism to be a worthy political stance. Thus, equivalents such as ‘so-called intellectuals’ or ‘pseudo-academics’ might be more appropriate here.
As always new words and coinages are exceptionally fascinating for translators giving them hours of fun and
pseudo intellectual joy.