“I guess the best translation of schadenfreude would be ‘damage-joy’ which gets at the essence of the thing, sort of: you’re happy at another’s misfortune.”

“Oh, neat! What are some more German words that have no direct translation?”

“Well, there’s drachenfutter. It kind of means ‘feed the dragon’ but it’s really a word for presents you give your wife after you’ve been an ass. Or maybe sehnsucht, which is more or less ‘I’m addicted to the feeling I get when I miss something.'”

“Wow, the Germans have a word for everything!”

“They sure do have a word for everything. It’s alles.”

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“It’s not the same book. Not even close.” Maya said. “What were you thinking?”

“It was awful,” Arthur blurted. “They brought it to me…a great book, they said, a bestseller by a Thai author just waiting for an international audience. But the book was terrible. Half of it was untranslatable, laced with popular idiom and depending on cultural factors for relevance…something American readers wouldn’t understand!”

“That’s no reason to rewrite Mr. Hangpa’s book.”

“It’s every reason,” Arthur snarled. “I never could get published, you know. Never could make it or get anyone interested. But with that book…someone else’s name, the skeleton of their plot…”

“Miguel Villaponte is one of the most important authors that nobody knows about,” said Meghan. “His inventiveness and facility for the whimsical and the bizarre makes him easily the equal of Carrol, Borges, or any number of other literary luminaries.”

Danielle cast a wary glance over the disheveled pile of manuscripts on her sister’s desk. “So what’s the problem? Have your college put out a book of his stuff.”

“Why do you think he’s still so obscure?” Meghan barked. “It’s not just because people are lazy. Villaponte wrote in Galician, a language related to Portuguese, and it’s never been translated into English.”

“So translate it. That’s what all this is for, isn’t it?” Danielle thrust a finger at the degrees, honors and other shingles decorating the study wall.

“That’s not the only problem,” Meghan sighed. “A lot of Villaponte’s work is laced with nonce–er, with nonsense–words. How do you translate something like pageretal that has no meaning in Galacian or any other language? Worse, his nonsense words follow Galacian syntax precisely and lend a certain cadence to the language–in addition to being used, modified, references, and reinvented throughout the text!”

Danielle shrugged. “Make up your own nonsense.”

“I can’t just make up my own words–I need to settle on something that’s nonsense but fits the text, in English. If I do it wrong, the whole translation comes tumbling down like a house of cards.” Meghan cradled her head in her hands. “Did you understand any of that?”

‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves / Did gyre and gimble in the wabe,” Danielle said. “Does that answer your question?”