Terence Tunberg's translation of Dr. Seuss's How the Grinch Stole Christmas has a rather prolix title:

Quomodo Invidiosulus Nomine Grinchus Christi Natalem Abrogaverit

whose literal translation is:

How the little envious one named Grinch repealed Christmas

Two choices stand out:

  • Substituting a diminutive adjective and explicit naming for the simple "Grinch"
  • Changing "steal" to a more complicated legal term, "abrogo"

I'll be honest: I've always thought this was a terrible translation of the title, substituting 5 easily understood children's words (= 7 syllables) with a long-winded and difficult title of a treatise (= 24 syllables).

A more literal translation could be:

Quomodo Grinchus Christi Natalem Furatus Sit.

(= 14 syllables)

My question: Has Terence, an excellent Latinist, offered any commentary on his reasons for translating this way? What are some good reasons for opting for the longer title?

  • 1
    I really don't want to elicit opinions ("right on!" "seriously?"), but some objective reasons, especially confirmed by the translator himself, in favor of the chosen route.
    – brianpck
    Jun 17 '17 at 15:02
  • 1
    Lectio difficilior potior. "The more difficult reading [is] the stronger." We gotta give those little kiddos a challenge. Mar 6 '20 at 19:22

I found this article from the Chicago Tribune that partially explains this. The short version: the Tunbergs didn't think 'Grinch' sounded very good as Latin, but they couldn't get permission to change the name, because it's such a recognizable part of the story. 'Invidiosulus nomine Grinchus' was the compromise that was reached with Dr Seuss's estate, but the Tunbergs were allowed to substitute a couple of instances of 'the Grinch' in their translation with 'Invidiosulus.'

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