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Throwing maths to the winds entirely, I think the best way to translate it would be 'scores of people'.


When I was a student, one of my lecturers would often refer to "the deep intellectual game we play with the examiners". Certainly, a student of translation has to tread a careful line between showing he fully understands the passage to be translated while producing a translation that reads as though it were written by a native.

The professional surely owes it to himself to produce the most natural translation that is faithful to the text. If the client objects, then that's a pity but, in that case, perhaps he should be invited to do the job himself. I would not hesitate to use "dozens" in your example, because "tens" sounds less natural, though it might seem right in, say, Biblical contexts.

I think the titles of translated works would make an interesting study. Titles are chosen for maximum impact, fully using the resources of the language. (One of my students was an ex-newspaper man who had worked at composing headings of articles in the inner pages of the Daily Express. His literature essays often had startling titles!) As such, they rarely go straight into the target language word for word. A list of such titles - original beside translation - would in itself constitute a valuable lesson for students of translation.

Peter Harvey

I'm not at all sure that 'scores' would be right. 'More than forty' is just over than two score, which is not what 'scores' really implies just as 25 is not really 'dozens' in any but the most literal sense. I really think we must stick to sense and not allow inflation of terms.

Today's Spanish TV news had a report entitled 'Lo que el agua se llevó', which is a direct steal from a film title. It is 'Gone with the Water'.

John Cowan

In addition, scores is mildly archaic in American English, whereas dozens is idiomatic everywhere.

Peter Harvey

I think scores is at least dated and unusual in British English nowadays.

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