Monday, October 13, 2014

Bad translations didn't stop at Verne either...

After this experience it seems to me that a book translated from one language to another is not the same book. I think there's a lot more to books than just plot and a translation may greatly alter the feel of some books. And in some instances they get messed up so much that the author's reputation was dealt some indelible bruises as well as in the following case:

"So how is Verne considered to be a writer of books suitable only for children in the US and on a par with Dickens and Tolstoy everywhere else in the world?It's largely the fault of the rotten-ass translations he got, which were filled with scientific mistakes and changes and omissions which conflicted with the political and religious views of Victorian England. For instance, the original translator of 20,000 Leagues deleted more than 20% of the book, largely because he was a conservative British Protestant and Verne was a liberal French Catholic. This is in addition to literally hundreds of translation errors (Verne's "Badlands of Nebraska" becoming the "disagreeable territory of Nebraska") and egregious mistakes in science (the translator provides a careful explanation of how the Nautilus floats because iron is lighter than water). All of these mistakes and errors were attributed to Verne, and because so much of the social and political content of his books was lopped out, they seemed like nothing more than trivial adventure stories to English-speaking readers." Ron Miller


But there are really good translations too I'm sure. No wonder translations are protected by copyright - they are creative works on their own. (Be it bad or good.) Translating works is an art unto itself. But it appears to be also an undeniable truth that once a certain genre becomes successful, quality control may be less important than getting derivative works out there. As for myself - I believe I stick with the originals. Or at least not switch between two. I can't bear the hard facts of novel translations - and going through the pain did not bring me a baby step closer to deciding in which language to continue writing myself. I already have nightmares about what either translation would sound like...""

Just for fun: Bad title translations