That Awkward Moment When Your Name Is Translated Into Polish…

My friend August sent along this image from some book in Polish.

I didn’t realize my name needed translating:

Then again, I guess that’s closer than most people get…

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the chair of Foundation Beyond Belief and a high school math teacher in the suburbs of Chicago. He began writing the Friendly Atheist blog in 2006. His latest book is called The Young Atheist's Survival Guide.

  • http://twitter.com/SteveInMI Steve In MI

    Wait… what’s that bit at the end about a “polecam”? Hemant, is there a side gig you’re not telling us about?  :)

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Hemant Mehta

      What can I say. Teaching don’t pay the bills.

    • CoboWowbo

      “polecam” means the author recommends the site. I believe the translation is “I recommend”… :)

  • Paul Clapham

    There’s a misprint there… it should actually say “Hemanta Mehty”. And that’s not translation taking place, it’s just applying the normal rules of Polish grammar. (Using the genitive case, if you really want to know.)

    • Mike R

      To add on to this (correct) reply. In English, we’d say “the blog of Hemant Mehta”, and the preposition “of” indicates a kind of possessive relationship between those two nouns (grammatically it’s called the genetive case, as Paul mentions). Slavic (and other) languages don’t use a preposition to indicate this relationship — instead it is done by changing the word endings, so “bloga Hemanta Methy”. If someone was using Hemant’s name as the subject of a Polish sentence it would still be spelled just as it is in English. If were doing something “with” Hemant, his name would become something like “Hemantem” in that context.

      • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

        At least it’s a Latin alphabet.  In Russian you’d be something like  Гэмант 
        Мэхта

        • Glasofruix

          Гемант, because the “э” sound after a “г” is a pain to pronounce.

        • Alex

          Never understood why H translates into Г in Russian. Still don’t. Soft Ukrainian “gh” I can see, but Russian…

          • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

            Yes, their X is a lot closer in sound IMO.

            Still nothing like what a Russian goes through trying to deal with English.  My wife was just helping my son with vocabulary: ‘sew’…

          • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

            Yes, their X is a lot closer in sound IMO.

            Still nothing like what a Russian goes through trying to deal with English.  My wife was just helping my son with vocabulary: ‘sew’…

          • Artor

            Take it up with Cyril. He’s the old Rus viking who gave them their alphabet.

            • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

              But it’s not even the alphavet, it’s the way non-Russian words are transliterated into Russian.  I’m not sure, but I can’t think of any examples of Russian words starting with a soft guttural (X), so I think since it’s a sound they’re not used to, it’s easier to lead with a ‘G’. 

            • niemzo

               He wasn’t a viking, he was a greek missionary.

              • Artor

                Right you are. I’d always assumed he’d gotten his Byzantine culture by way of the Varangian Guard, but now I’ve educated myself a bit more. Thanks for the heads-up!

    • GeraardSpergen

      Tschebyschev, Chebychev; Pafnuti, Pafnutij;  Mehtasky, Mehtaskaya…

  • Xeon2000

    Be careful, meth is dangerous stuff Mr.Methy

  • MegaZeusThor

    Insert clever Breaking Bad comment here?

  • http://religiouscomics.net/ Jeff P

    Google translate says:

    If you have allergies, no wit, intelligence and friendly, but firm comments on the religious and irreligious world, avoid Hermant Methy blog. If not, I recommend.

    • Grunwald

      It’s more closely translated as:

      If you’re allergic to jest, intelligence and friendliness, and strong commentary on the religious and irreligious world, avoid Hemant Mehta’s blog.  If not, I recommend you do.

      Noun declension in the absence of articles makes things a bit trickier to translate into a language that uses articles (thus not needing declension).

  • Skizzle

    Wait a minute, now.  Hemant, are you telling me that you’re not Polish?  MY WHOLE WORLD IS CRUMBLING AROUND ME!

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Hemant Mehta

      I’m also not white. *Ducks for cover*

      • Michael

        Is this where you admit you’re secretly a god?

      • JohnnieCanuck

        Given that we are all descended from Africans, I prefer to think that we are all persons of colour. Some are just a little more melanin deficient than others, but really we’re all the same.

        • allein

          I turn rather pink in the sun…does that count?

      • DeviousSoybeans

        Well, this we knew. Didn’t Christwire out you as a smiling Mexigay? 

  • Deven Kale

    I have to wonder what causes the ‘r’ in ‘Hermant’ to come into peoples minds. It’s not actually there, and even I put it there when I first started  following this blog. One day I read it again and the ‘r’ was gone, and I was totally floored by the fact that it was never there in the first place. Now I’m just amazed to see how common a misconception it is.

    • Paul Clapham

       On the other hand, if you had male children in a certain decade not so long ago (or maybe if you were a male child then) you’ll more likely think of “Hemant” and “Skeletort”.

      • Pepe

         Haha, I see what you did there.

    • http://annainca.blogspot.com/ Anna

      I would guess it’s because English speakers tend to think of the name Herman, so that “R” creeps in there.

      • Bryan

         my favorite is a commenter who once called him “Hermunt Metta”. Oh, what an awful name that would be.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=678146756 Erik Gaghan

    Well, I suppose “Bathsalty” would be slightly worse…

  • http://www.emilvikstrom.se/ Emil Vikström
  • northierthanthou

    You’ve made it!

  • http://www.fisz.co.uk/ Polish translator

    Interesting approach!


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