Wednesday, July 8
Royal Rantings #3: From One Language To Another
So many of you have asked for more discussion posts and as promised here I am, with a topic that is close to me: translation. In this post I'm going to talk about my experiences with translated books and about what can make a translated copy just as great as it was in the original language. Without further ado, let's start this discussion.
The idea for this post came to me when I found out about a cool translation software called Smartling. It is primarily used by businesses to translate the likes of websites, mobile apps and documents. What makes it awesome is that it translates accurately, without changing the meaning of the text, unlike Google Translate. Do check it out, if you're interested.
As some of you might know, my native language is Hungarian but I've been reading in English for a couple of years now. Despite this, I didn't completely said my goodbyes to translated novels. Hungary is a small country where the demand for English literature is rather low, which means there are barely any places I can buy books in foreign languages. There's always the possibility of ordering from online, still from time to time I end up buying my books in Hungarian because sometimes they are cheaper and easier to get.
Unfortunately, not all translated books impress me. Sometimes the writing style gets lost in the translation process. The words are twisted until the point where they lose their meaning and start to take a completely different form than the author originally intended. What I hate the most is when a translations looks like something that was left unedited and uncorrected. The worst translations I've read contained misused and misinterpreted sayings that didn't make any sense.
What do I call a well-translated book? The writing style is, of course, the most important aspect. I read a novel this year with a very common and lackluster writing style. Imagine my surprise when I did a little research on the internet and most people called the original writing poetic and gorgeous. I went back to the translated novel but it was still the same rough writing I remembered. I can't help wondering that I might have enjoyed the book more if not for the terrible translation. At the same time a translator has to change a few things, in my opinion. A very good example is that Hungarians don't use as much slang as Americans so when someone straightforward translates a contemporary the slang usually sounds over-used in my language. Not even mentioning that we don't have the same expressions as in English so many times contemporaries are filled with outdated slang and expressions that no one in their right mind would use.
However many problems I had with translations, I haven't forgotten that there are still many people who don't give a hastily translated novel out of their hands. They work freaking hard to meet with the expectations of the readers and their publishers. Just imagine how grey and boring our world would be if translators haven't worked their asses off since the beginning of time, translating classics from Russian, French, German and more authors, whose works were published and cherished in countless countries. Without translators the bond between readers all around the world would cease to exist. Shout out to all translators who, to this day, work hard to recreate the stories of our favorite authors.
What is your take on this topic? Do share with me your opinion. :)