The title of one of John Steinbeck's novels:

Of Mice and Men

In Iran this novel has been translated to Persian word by word without considering the Of many years ago. It is just Mice and Humans not Of Mice and Men.

Is it only the taste of translator or had s/he been right in translating it like this? Does Of easily only mean From or something else?

I have to add the men in the title has been translated to humans in Persian. I know man or men can mean human in English but it would be better to be sure about that.

  • 2
    This is a confusing construction in English, so +1 for the question.
    – Tom Au
    May 16, 2013 at 22:01

2 Answers 2


Of, in this context, means regarding. So a "translated" title might be, "Regarding Mice and Men."

  • 1
    Or, if you wanted to use another preposition, you could use about: About Mice and Men.
    – J.R.
    May 17, 2013 at 9:51
  • @J.R.: Fair enough. Either adds clarity to the ambiguous "of."
    – Tom Au
    May 17, 2013 at 12:22
  • 1
    It is also, in this context, a reference to another work: Robert Burns' "To a Mouse" i.e. (in English rather than the original Scots) "The best laid schemes of mice and men / Often go awry". That context is important, I think.
    – owjburnham
    Oct 3, 2018 at 9:39

I think it is a poetic way of saying "This is a story of mice and men". I think it was fashionable mid 20th century. I've read another book called "Of Whales and Men", written in 1950.

  • 1
    Even more famous, Darwins's On the Origin of Species. Different preposition, but the same general principle. I'm not sure it's necessarily a "poetic" usage though. May 16, 2013 at 20:50
  • 5
    @Persian Cat: The title would be problematic in any translation, since it alludes to Robert Burns The best-laid schemes o' mice an' men Gang aft agley (...often go wrong, in modern English). May 16, 2013 at 21:00
  • 2
    @FumbleFingers You could probably turn that comment into an answer.
    – user230
    May 16, 2013 at 21:13
  • 1
    @FumbleFingers Ah, that's a fair point. I hadn't thought of it that way.
    – user230
    May 16, 2013 at 22:01
  • 1
    @snailboat: I've just noticed Tom Au's suggested "regarding". If the Persian equivalent of a word like that could reasonably be used in such contexts, then go for it. Susan Sontag is a competent writer, and her latest book is called Regarding the Pain of Others. It's quite a normal usage in such contexts. Or you could replace it with "A tale of", as in Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities May 16, 2013 at 22:16

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .