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I'm trying to translate some text from Russian to English.

The text discusses both chairs and power over people (it is a fantasy work discussing a Chair of Power for a Lord).

At one point, it has a pun using the word "посадить" ("posadit'"), which works in Russian, because that word has two meanings:

  1. Literally, it means "to sit (someone) down"

  2. idiomatically, "to put in jail" (e.g. so the person sits in jail).

Is there a way that this pun can be - at least approximately - translated into English?


The full sentence is:

"And this [Chair] is for the Dark Lord, so he can sit everyone" "And this [Chair] is for the Dark Lord, so he can jail everyone"

Original russian: "И один - Властелину, чтоб всех посадить".

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3 Answers

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Two ideas came to my mind.

One is you could change the word chair to house, since house (esp. "big house") has been used as slang for jail or cell for quite some time.

This big house is for the Dark Lord, so he can house everyone.

The other idea is more grim; sometimes, The Chair is slang for "the electric chair."

And this chair is for the Dark Lord, so he can sit everyone in The Chair.

I realize these aren't perfect: one switches words from chair to house, the other implies capital punishment instead of prison. However, translations of puns is a tricky endeavor; that was the best I could think of. Maybe someone else can do better.

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YAY! Your idea #1 doesn't work, sorry, since as noted the work deals with the "Chair of Power". However, your idea #2 is totally brilliant! It fits the context to a T! –  DVK Nov 10 '12 at 23:23
    
Can I say "...so he can give everyone The Chair" and have native speakers understand we are talking Capital Punishment here? –  DVK Nov 10 '12 at 23:24
    
@DVK: Not everyone would necessarily catch that reference at first, but subsequent developments in the plot could easily remedy that. –  J.R. Nov 11 '12 at 3:14
    
since what's being translated is a webcomic, it's even easier - I can add notes/annotations :) –  DVK Nov 11 '12 at 12:34
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I have used J.R.'s excellent suggestion as the basis. Here's the finished ballad of The Chair Of Power. Critiques are welcome.

Three Chairs for the Elven-kings to sit in councel all classy,
Seven for the Dwarf-lords' fat asses,
Nine for Mortal Men with lice-infested hair,
One for the Dark Lord, so everyone's condemned to The Chair!

(with deep apologies to The Professor)

And here's the original source I was translating:

http://a-comics.ru/comics/stoolmaster/

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First off, I liked the suggestion above about "The Chair".

And this chair is the Dark Lord's, in case he wants to offer anyone The Chair.

If we know about the Dark Lord's personality and habits. If you can answer "What kind of places would the Dark Lord put people?", then you could use the following:

And this chair is for the Dark Lord, so he can find places to put people. (read ominously)

And one more suggestion:

"And this is the Dark Lord's chair. 
 He wanted it right in front of the fireplace, so he can fire bad workers."
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