Discussions

LET’S TALK: BOOKS IN DIFFERENT LANGUAGES

BONJOUR! HOLA! JAMBO! NI-HAO!

The theme this week is much more international!

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So, let’s pose the questions:

Would a book mean the same thing if it was translated in different languages?

Would there still be the same atmosphere, emotion and tone?

What would be different?

What would we like to stay the same?

We cannot deny that literature should be shared to EVERYONE.
And I mean EVERYONE!

But one of the main boundaries that stands in the way is language. But translating from one language to another risks shifting the meaning of the sentence. And because of this, that particular word, sentence or paragraph won’t have the same meaning and tone that the author intended. There are words in German, French and Spanish which cannot be directly translated to English and this works vica versa.

For example, In Spanish, the word tia literally means ‘aunt/uncle’ but when is used more informally, actually means something like ‘dude’. Another example in Spanish is the phrase, me estas dando la lata which literally means in English ‘to give the can’ but is used for the meaning like ‘you’re bothering/annoying me.’

THANK YOU SO MUCH TO MY SPANISH SPEAKING FRIEND FOR LENDING ME HER SPANISH SPEAKING MIND!!!

So if this is the case, if it is so hard to translate between the languages while trying to keep the same meaning and tone: how do we make sure that our favourite novels stay as true as possible so that people in Russia and China can enjoy them as well as we have?

Well, now we have translation software companies such as Smartling which allow this translation to become easier and more accurate. They have opened these doors so that websites, opinions and businesses can be shared not just within your own nation but so much more broadly. The ramblings I post here might be just as understood by people in the Philippines.
If you think about it more deeply, HOW COOL IS THAT?!

Whew, that’s one box ticked. 
But then again: what aspects of writing would we want to keep the same? The tone? Atmosphere? Mood? Everything? Well, in a perfect world, everything. But when compromises have to be made, what would be prioritized? 

In my opinion, I don’t really mind as long as the book stays true as possible. I’m not fluent in any other language other than English so I’ve never really experienced this sort of thing except for struggling through my French comprehension and translating.
That’s always fun: me going “T-the boy w-as going to play? run? cook for h-his s-sister.”
Okay, I’m not that bad but it’s much different to being fluent.

But, yes. Books in different languages are a huge question in the literary world. Tone, meanings and emotions all become swirled up but modern technology and corporations –  Smartling  – have made this easier so that words are available to be comprehended and enjoyed not just to the English-speakers but to everyone!

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SO, WHAT’S YOUR OPINION?

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF BOOKS BEING TRANSLATED?

WHAT ASPECTS OF THE NOVEL WOULD YOU WANT TO REMAIN THE SAME?

SignatureDisclaimer: Images aren’t mine

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9 thoughts on “LET’S TALK: BOOKS IN DIFFERENT LANGUAGES

  1. Ooh, Kara did a similar post to this last week or so and I absolutely agree with the both of you. I haven’t really thought about translations before, but I would want the book to stay as close to its original as possible. A few different sentences here and there doesn’t bother me as long as the bigger picture remains the same! Awesome discussion lovely xx

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I do think books should be shared with everyone! But personally, I don’t like reading translated books. I have read about four or five and have disliked every single one. I do think something, though I am not sure what – is lost in translation. So nowadays I stick to books in their original language and hopefully I might try another translated one in the future?

    Check out my review and giveaway: http://olivia-savannah.blogspot.nl/2015/05/edge-of-evil-review-giveaway.html

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great post! I never thought about this 😛 So now that I am thinking about it…Hmm…I think I’d want basically everything about the novel to be the same except for the language of-course because changing things would mean you’re not reading the same book. I know a lot of books have been translated into different languages (probably Harry Potter series?) and I think it’s been successful.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve heard Harry Potter is also in Latin. Talk abut success right?! But I love hearing your opinion, I pretty much think the same! Though, I would love to someday read a book in another language (preferably French)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s so cool! Yea same, … I don’t know how to read/write in any language except English and Chinese though. (That is I’m learning Chinese but I wouldn’t be able to read a novel in Chinese!)

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Amazing post!

    I think translating books is a necessarily to make them, like you said, available for everyone. But it’s also true that translations can actually ruin an otherwise great book. I’m usually very hesitant when it come to book that are translated from whatever language into German and I rather pick up an English translation than a German. I guess I have never read a German book that was translated into English tho.

    Over all I also think it depends on the language into which a book is being translated. Translating from English to languages like Spanish, German, Dutch, hell even Swedish is probably easier than translating a book to Finnish.
    Finnish is really outstanding within the Northern European area and the only language really close to it, is Estonian. Both languages belong to the Baltic Finnic group that again belongs to the Finno-Urgic languages…duh!

    So translating these languages is super hard because most of the words don’t really exist in the other language or vise versa, there might be now word in Finnish that expresses a word that even comes close to what was meant in the original language… That’s why no TV show is dubbed and there are thousands of books available in English at my bookstore – it’s just not worth translating it…

    Like

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