Skip to content

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.

Reading the unabridged 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, which is a lot longer than I thought it was. It also has a smattering of Latin, and pages and pages of delightful marine-biology nerding out.  Due to translation problems – and as far as I can tell, occasional wholesale alteration of the original French text – it is also occasionally unintelligible. “That day they brought up curious specimens from those productive coasts: fishing frogs that, from their comical movements, have acquired the name of buffoons; black commersons, furnished with antennae; trigger fish, encircled with red bands; orthragorisci, with very subtle venom; some olive-colored lampreys; macrorhynci, covered with silvery scales; trichiuri, the electric power of which is equal to that of the gymnotus and cramp fish: scaly notopteri, with transverse brown bands; greenish cod; several varieties of gobies, etc.; also some larger fish; a caranx with a prominent head a yard long; several fine bonitos, streaked with blue and silver; and three splendid tunnies, which, in spite of the swiftness of their motion, had not escaped the net.”

Gymnotus inaequilabiatus.

Gymnotus inaequilabiatus.


  1. Otilia Kloos

    Hello, John.

    It looks like you’re having too much fun with reading unabridged translations: a glimpse of the effort of classification that Aristotle made in Categoriae;

    the “trichiuri” would fit into the primary substance, “ousia”, so, at least, we know that this is the basis of all categories;

    the categorizing of “trichiuri” in this translation, ” the electric power of which is equal to that of….”, my goodness, not in vain do we hold that saying that translation is like the woman, “when she is beautiful, she’d be not faithful”…, and viceversa;

    I am just hoping that the translator meant by “electric power…”, the mitochondria of the thousands of cells that provide energy for the trichiuri; John H.C. Pippy and Frederick A. Aldrich , in 1857, describes it as “a postlarva of the trypanolynch”;

    anyway, what matters in this text is the purpose of classifying, categorizing, hence the effort of Aristotle that has not been surpassed by anyone so far.

    The “primary substance” is the center of everything. Of course, we will have to deal with lots of translations of Aristotle too; I kind of like Simplicius and Olympiodorus, but I will have to keep in mind AT ALL TIMES that , while he was classifying(categorizing), Aristotle meant the pure substance as the pure reality, etc.

    This leaves no room for commentary, and I will label the other hermeneutics as the greatest trap of semantics.

    Thank u for the post.

    Posted on 03-Oct-17 at 10:14 am | Permalink
  2. Otilia Kloos

    I tried a Translation into Romanian of the fragment from Jules Verne, just because I was so mesmerized how the Latin can be embellished and traumatized at the same time(?!):pestii broasca numiti bufoni, comersoni negri purtand antene, pestii tragaci , incercuiti de benzi rosiatice, orthragorisci, cu cel mai subtil venin vazut vreodata, ceva petromizoni maslinii; trichurii, a caror putere electrocutanta o egaleaza pe cea a gymnotusului si a pestelui crampe: noptoteri solzosi, cu fasii maronii de- a curmezisul; cod verzui; cateva varietati de goblesi, si peste ceva mai mare; caranx cu un cap lung cat un cot, cativa bonitos frumusei, tarcati cu albastru si argintiu; si cativa tonisori, care in ciuda sprintenei lor miscari, n-au scapat din plasa”

    Posted on 04-Oct-17 at 7:06 pm | Permalink