The Guardian has excerpts from the correspondence between Scarlett Thomas, author of Going Out (in which “twentysomethings languish in the suburban wastelands of Essex, engaging the world primarily through e-mail, the Internet, and American sitcoms and movies”) and her Russian translator, Den(n)is Borisov. I would have preferred it if they’d cut out most of the chitchat (“My dog is called Dreamer”) and focused on the translation questions, but there are enough of the latter to make it an interesting read; I learned almost as much as Borisov:
Yes, a Cortina is a Ford. Now the context. Essex is known in the UK as being a place where working-class people live, often people who have moved out of the slummier areas of London. Essex Girl jokes started in the 80s, and specifically focused on young working-class girls. In that sense, “Essex girl” really means “working-class girl”. At the time the jokes started, the Cortina was the kind of car that people in Essex would have. Kind of trashy and cheap but maybe aspirational for people in Romford or Southend. In the UK, as everywhere else, I guess, different cars have different meanings. So a Cortina is a working-class” sort of car, the Volvo is the “sensible” family car, often associated with people who don’t like taking risks. The old-style BMWs are drug-dealers’ cars. The Porsche is the stockbroker’s car. The Mondeo is the travelling salesman’s car.
(Via Naked Translations.)