7 April 2015

Translating literature

I don't know if translations are that big a deal for any of you, but for me it definitely is and I practically struggle with it every time I go into a bookstore or a store with books. I somehow came across Smartling, which is a translation software and I felt quite inspired to write a post about translating literature;

I'm a Dane, so the majority of the books in my country is written in Danish - which for me is a big problem. The majority of the books that are published, are published in English, and I for one do not like reading translated novels; because I find that when you translate literature something gets lost; whether it's the writing style, a character quirk or something else.
For example, the first time I read Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen it was in Danish and I didn't really like it. A couple of years passed, I read it in English and it's still one of my favorite books to this day. The famous quotes and Darcy's pride do not translate well, at least not to Danish.

The writing style is quite important for the book and you can't translate that directly - so that tends to get lost. For newer works I find that it's not that big a deal; I read The Hunger Games in both English and Danish and it was translated beautifully; but when it comes to classics I can't read them in Danish. Somehow the old-English is wonderful but I don't enjoy a novel in old-Danish.

I know that translating works is vital if the rest of the world is to have an opportunity to read said book but you have to be quite careful with the translation. I find that the most important aspect to consider when translating is literally the language; use the words that are closest to the ones you're translating and the ones that explain the meaning of the word(s) the best.

My biggest pet-peeve when it comes to reading translated books is probably the conversations and how they're portrayed in the translated version

Literature is a big part of my life and I hope to get a job in the publishing business once I'm older. For me the value of the written word is practically everything; I use most of my freetime to read and when I'm not reading I'm either talking to other book lovers or writing posts about books.
The written word is also essential to the world we live in, except from talking it's one of the only ways to communicate.

The moral of this post is to be careful when translating and that translations are quite important in our world - even if I don't approve.

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