Translating Digits of Pi

In September, my next book ‘Science: a Discovery in Comics’ will be published by NBM. Right now, I’m in the middle of translating this 192-pager from Dutch into English (using my own new font, yay!).

As always, translating poses interesting challenges – not only does the translation have to be accurate, it also has to fit into the space available. Fortunately, Dutch is a much “longer” language than English. The English wording usually comes out much shorter, which makes it easy on me. Except for a word like “circumference”, which is much longer than the Dutch “omtrek” – I’m coming across it in the chapter about Pi.

‘Science: a Discovery in Comics’ – page on Pi

 

Pi is interesting for many reasons – this number has a lot of mystic and artistic connotations. And did you know that the search for ever more digits of Pi spurred the evolution of the computer?

In the original book I showcased an old Dutch rhyme that helped people memorize the digits of Pi:

 

Wie u eens π heeft verzonnen in aloude tijden

was nooit begonnen inderdaad spoedig geëindigd

als hij had ingezien welk gezeur de cijfers bien”

 

If you substitute each word for the number of letters it has, you get the correct values for the first 23 digits of pi.

I was really happy with this find, but dreaded translating it – until a quick Google-search taught me that the same kind of mnemonic for Pi has been done in English even more than in Dutch! Here is the page where I found it: Pi Wordplay.

So it was actually rather easy then to put in a good translation. And these are 31 digits, so the English actually teaches you more than the Dutch!

 

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About the Author

Margreet de Heer
Margreet de Heer
Margreet de Heer lives and works in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, with her husband Yiri T. Kohl. A long time ago, she studied Theology at the University of Amsterdam, but through divine intervention she ended up as a comic artist. She worked at the famous comic store Lambiek from 2000 until 2005, and wrote a book about Dutch comics together with Kees Kousemaker. Since 2005 she is a full-time comic artist producing a wide range of work, from children's comics in magazines to cartoons at business conferences. In 2007 she started making philosophical comic "reports" for newspaper Trouw. This resulted in a book edition in 2010, soon followed by graphic novels about religion and science. 'Philosophy: a Discovery in Comics' and 'Science: a Discovery in Comics' are published at NBM. 'Religion: a Discovery in Comics' is coming out in October 2015.

1 Comment on "Translating Digits of Pi"

  1. Er klopt iets niet aan dat plaatje met het Engelse rijmpje. Het zijn namelijk niet de eerste 31 decimalen, maar de eerste dértig (voorafgegaan door het cijfer 3).
    Groet, Rutger

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