English Honorifics (or smth) for translation of a story

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  • #1
Borek
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Oh, combined wisdom of PF-ers, I seek your help again (and probably not for the last time).

We are working on a translation of a story into English. Thing takes place in Poland, now and then, and at some point our main hero meets a woman (named Miecia) that fourty years ago worked as a non-resident housekeeper at her grandparents. Miecia tells an important story about things that happened in the past. Problem is, whenever she speaks about her then-host she uses form "pan inżynier" (Mr. Engineer, that's just the way these things work in Polish). This reflects a combination of respect and adoration, amplified by the fact Miecia is from the sticks while the host was an educated engineer from the large city. We can't find anything similar in English.

Can you think of a honorific (or something of this type) that would leave the English reader with similar feelings about the story and Miecia's attitude?

(in a few weeks I will explain what is it about, I think some of you may find the project interesting)
 

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  • #2
Ibix
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Mr Jim, or whatever his first name is. Particularly if you use a nickname form of his first name. It's not particularly common, but I used it for my Mum's best friend's Dad when I was a kid - a very informal friendly chap, but 70+ years older than me. "Jim" would have been odd coming from a child, "Mr Smith" too formal, and he wasn't a relative to be called Grandad or anything.
 
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whenever she speaks about her then-host she uses form "pan inżynier" (Mr. Engineer, that's just the way these things work in Polish).
Maybe I am unable to understand the main problem properly but I find no problem with mr.engineer,I thought about it for about 10-15 minutes and also tried to fit my myself in miecea chracter😅 but still I can't think anything more perfect than this.
 
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DrGreg
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I think you might get different answers for American-English, British-English, Indian-English, Australian-English, etc, because this is not just about language, it's about cultural differences.

In the UK, you might address someone as "Sir" (on its own, without a profession or name) as a mark of respect or deference, but you wouldn't use that when referring to them in the third person.

However, if you are translating into English a story that is still set in Poland, then I think the reader might accept "Mr Engineer" as a Polish form of address, and would infer the intended meaning correctly.
 
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  • #5
Bandersnatch
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I'm wondering whether something like 'the good engineer' would work as a more natural-sounding form of address? Formed by analogy with 'the good doctor'.
 
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atyy
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"Mr Engineer" is a good translation.
 
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PeroK
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Can you think of a honorific (or something of this type) that would leave the English reader with similar feelings about the story and Miecia's attitude?
The habit of using someone's job title is not really done in English, apart from a medical doctor. So, there is no English idiom available. Whatever you use will inevitably convey the European context of the story. You get that in the films of Bergman or the plays of Ibsen, for example. The way characters are addressed reveals the play cannot be set in an English-speaking country. In England this sort of respect (sadly perhaps) would be reserved for titled persons. "His Lordship".

This is just my opinion, but if she always adds "the engineer" after his surname that may suggest the sort of deference you are looking for. "Well, Mr Kowalski, the engineer, liked coffee for his breakfast. Mr Kowalski, the engineer, was very particular about that." The only risk is that you make it too comical! That may be one way to achieve:

This reflects a combination of respect and adoration, amplified by the fact Miecia is from the sticks while the host was an educated engineer from the large city.
 
  • #8
Borek
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Thanks for your comments. Mr. Engineer it is. It is just a few phrases, so even if they will sound strange to some readers they won't make whole story difficult to read. Quite the opposite, hopefully they will just add a bit of flavor.
 
  • #9
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Thing takes place in Poland...
Then I think a possible point of the translation is exactly to preserve the difference and not to find an acceptable English counterpart. Just be consistent with it.
I do agree with others, Mr. Engineer is a good one. Maybe you can add a name if you feel so.
 

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