Thursday, March 5, 2015

Discussion: Literature & Translation

This post is going to be a little different than my usual stuff so bear with me, please. I don't usually do any discussion posts because I think I'm not very good at them but for once I'm gonna give it a shot.

I'm going to discuss one of my favorite books Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer (because duh what else would I pick?) and talk a bit about my feelings towards translated books.

For those of you who don't know, I live in Belgium. My mother tongue is Dutch/Flemish so I haven't always read books in English. I actually started reading the Artemis Fowl series in Dutch. I think I read the first six books in Dutch before I switched to English reading in 2008.

Although I prefer English books myself I think that translated books are very important to the world. It gives readers from all around the world the chance to read the same book, even though it isn't the the same language.
Looking back on all the translated books I've read and what I've heard from friends there are quite a number of things that I feel should stay in said book.

There are a number of aspects, though, that should remain in a translated book. I've come across a number of things in Artemis Fowl (as well as other books I've read) that changed from the English version to the Dutch one.

The biggest aspect in translations that should never ever change for me is
Name Changes

First and last names, objects, places, etc...
I can't say enough how important names are. I don't like name changes in translated books at all. It's confusing and most of the time the name changes don't even make sense. 
Even original objects get a totally different names
The same goes for places and lots more.

I've had it happen to me when I was discussing a book (before I had read it in English) with someone who's read the English version and it caused for quite some confusion between us because of the language barrier. 

So I definitely think names, especially the names of characters, should remain the same in every book even though some names might not quite belong to the country you live in. 

In the case of Artmemis Fowl, I think, that it was translated very well. It's been many years since I read the Dutch version, but from what I remember the names were pretty much the same. Of course if I'm wrong, feel free to correct me. 
But anyway, as far as translations go my Artemis Fowl was really great. I read it when I was fourteen, and the translater really captured the same magic I felt when I read it for the first time in English a few years back.

Translated books are a great way to share literature with the world and not only the English speaking countries. 
I mean, I can't even imagine a world where certain books wouldn't get translated in almost every country or language.
It connects readers to each other and let's us share the same love for the written word.

That's where Smartling, a company that translates website content into many languages, comes in. Feel free to check it out.

So I want to know what you guys think about translation in literature. Don't hesistate to leave a comment!


  1. Yeah it's great because a lot of people can enjoy the book that way but I don't like it if they change things either. Harry Potter is a good example of that. Every name changes in Dutch and that's why I don't read HP in Dutch. They made it sound so silly and stupid.

    1. That's right! I forgot all about Harry Potter. I read the first two book in Dutch way back in the day (lol) and basically everything was different.

  2. I've never read a translated book, that I know of. I am in America so I think most of my books were written in English. I'd not thought about the changes made in translation as you've mentioned. Interesting.

  3. I totally agree with Name Changes, don't I do not understand why they do that, specially with the name of a character, yes, it's very confused, specially in fantasy books, is meaningless.

    I miss read in my mother language (spanish) but books in english are more cheap, exist more variety and i don't have to wait for a translation (since a lot authors are from usa or uk)
    Even i found more books from a Latin-American authors in english and it's more cheap buy it in usa that mexico (sad thing)
    And in the sagas, a lot of them, they never become completed, just one or two books, i don't like read half spanish, half english, it's very confusing


Share your thoughts! ♥