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At the end of the book I Shall Wear Midnight, this strange conversation takes place:

He said, ‘Miss Tiffany, the witch … would you be so good as to tell me: what is the sound of love?’
Tiffany looked at his face. The noise from the tug-of-war was silenced. The birds stopped singing. In the grass, the grasshoppers stopped rubbing their legs together and looked up. The earth moved slightly as even the chalk giant (perhaps) strained to hear, and the silence flowed over the world until all there was was Preston, who was always there.
And Tiffany said, ‘Listen.’

I don't understand what Tiffany means by that. Of course, I got the message that

they love each other,

but still why ‘Listen’? That makes no sense to me. I have to add that I read the book in Czech and there it is slightly different:

The boy is called similarly (Přestůň [pr̝̊estu:ɲ]) and she says that the sound of love is ‘Přesto’ [pr̝̊esto] which means "regardless", "in spite of", "still" or "even so".

That sounds pretty different and it is even more confusing for me, than the English version itself.

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    From what you say, it sounds like there might have been a translator's innovation, in which a profound statement was substituted by a pun (Přestůň - Přesto). But perhaps the meaning of the statement is still preserved in the translation.
    – Adamant
    Sep 23, 2017 at 10:48

3 Answers 3

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She means “if you want to know what love sounds like then listen right now because there’s love right here because I love you.”

As for "Přesto", that would be what is known as a pune, or play on words.

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  • Ok, and do you have any idea what the translator could mean?
    – TGar
    Sep 26, 2017 at 15:22
  • My knowledge of Czech is non-existent, so I cannot tell you precisely what the other reading of the pun means.
    – OrangeDog
    Sep 26, 2017 at 15:30
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Regarding the "Přesto" -translation. Others have commented that it is a pune, or play on words, but without further comments on it. My knowledge of Czech is also non-existent, but I believe that the translator is using similar sounding Czech word for Presto, which comes from the Italian/Latin word for quickly (also used as musical term for quick tempo, so it's globally known).

It also has other usage, quoting Merriam-Webster on Presto here:

used to indicate the sudden appearance or occurrence of something often as if by magic

That would make the translators pune a reference to how suddenly the sound of love appeared at that moment.

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  • The OP, who does speak Czech, says it doesn't mean that.
    – OrangeDog
    Aug 18, 2018 at 10:54
  • The Czech word itself does not, but in Pratchett translation, I would not ignore the possibility of "double pun" type of situation. Especially when the Czech word itself does not seem to fit the situation outside the namepun with Preston.
    – Mer
    Aug 19, 2018 at 9:34
  • @Mer I like the idea, but I really don't think it is correct. The word Přesto (with an accent over 'r') comes from přes (over) to (it). The word presto is from a different origin.
    – TGar
    Aug 20, 2018 at 19:34
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Regarding the Czech version: when Tiffany meets her older self in the last chapter, she starts asking her "Jako čarodějka, budu mít někdy -", "As a witch, will I ever have -". Presumably she's asking about having a lover/husband in future. Older Tiffany is already disappearing when responding, and younger Tiffany only hears "Přesto...", which, as already said, means "regardless", "in spite of", "still", "even so". It seems that the whole response could be something like "Even if you are a witch, you will have somebody to love."

Now, in Czech, somebody called Přestůň (Preston), when talked to, would be addressed "Přestůni", or possibly "Přesto", which would be a more personal addressing. I can imagine Tiffany calling him Přesto. (I am being subjective here since Přestůň of course is not a real Czech name.)

So maybe it is at the moment when Přestůň asks her what the sound of love is when Tiffany realizes that her older self gave her the answer, and that it wasn't "in spite of", as she thought, but "Přesto", a way to address her loved one. Calling him by his name is the sound of love.

This is just my interpretation of course.

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    Hi, welcome to SF&F. This seems to be more of an answer about the conversation between Tiffany (younger) and Tiffany (older) rather than the comment that Tiffany makes to Preston. Why did Tiffany say "Listen" to Preston in answer to his question?
    – DavidW
    Jul 18 at 18:30
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    Hi, thank you. I added the conversation between them because I think it's part of the explanation for the Czech translation. The meaning of "Listen" in the original text was already explained here. (I wrote about the Czech translation because the person who was asking wrote that they are also confused about the Czech version, and there was some discussion about that in the responses.)
    – yellow
    Jul 18 at 18:38
  • @yellow This is actually great answer to the second part of my question. Great thinking. Of course we cannot be sure if it is correct. (Possibly only the translator knows. And he sadly already passed away.) But is sounds very likely. Díky!
    – TGar
    Jul 19 at 9:06

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