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Old 08-02-2012, 05:20 AM   #16
Kumabjorn
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Yes, especially poetry. I have yet to encounter good translations of haiku, tanka or waka. The cadence is gone. In some Japanese poetry you find something called Hayashikotoba, these are completely meaningless words or phrases entered into a poem to modulate the cadence, yet most translators insist in including them even when they destroy the cadence in a translated poem. Go figure!
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Old 08-02-2012, 05:41 AM   #17
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In some Japanese poetry you find something called Hayashikotoba, these are completely meaningless words or phrases entered into a poem to modulate the cadence, yet most translators insist in including them even when they destroy the cadence in a translated poem. Go figure!
In the same vein, in Latin and Greek epic poetry, such as Aeneid, or the Odyssey, people are given a whole range of different descriptive terms, called "epithets", which are there primarily to fill up the desired syllable pattern of the hexameter verse. Eg, in the Iliad, Zeus can be any of:

Zeus of the councils
Zeus of the wide brows
Zeus the cloud-gatherer
Zeus, the father of gods and men

These epithets have absolutely nothing to do with what Zeus is actually doing in the storyline at the time, they are there because the metre requires an epithet with a specific pattern of long and short syllables. If you only read the poem in translation, you'd never see that.
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Old 08-02-2012, 06:12 AM   #18
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So whether you're mono or multi-lingual, other than the need to keep your knowledge of a foreign language alive, what are your reasons for reading literature in "other" languages?
Keeping my knowledge of a foreign language alive (or more precise: improve it) is my main reason for reading in other languages. Availability is not such a problem here in Germany as I can imagine it is in Sweden. I once read that German is the language that most books are translated into, don't know if this is right.

Most of my foreign reading I do in English. I read chess books and a monthly chess magazine in Russian.

And I very much like to read books by authors from Latin America and by Natives from Northern America. In some way this is a whole other world. But I'm only able to read them in German, not in the original.

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Old 08-02-2012, 07:58 AM   #19
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I'd *like* to read more in French, primarily to keep my language skills up, but it's hard to find good material. I would love to learn more about Quebecois fiction, but the ebooks are not available. For instance, there was one year where the CBC Radio Canada Reads series picked a French author, and Kobo only had the English version of the book. That is one instance where I would have chosen the French if it was available.

So if I do want to read in French, it's all stuff like Dumas and Verne off Project Gutenberg----and that makes it less 'fun reading' and more 'language exercise' to me since I have read most of that in English already. If someone could point me to a webpage which lists, say, 25 great Quebecois novels with links to purchase ebooks, I'd love it. But so far, no luck
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Old 08-02-2012, 08:29 AM   #20
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In recent years most of my non-english reading has been in Spanish and not much of it.

I'm not all that into lit fic in any language and the latin-american publishing scene mostly looks down its nose at anything else. That leaves me with Isabel Allende (at last, a *storyteller* and a great one) and Esmeralda Santiago. Both available in english.

I bought and enjoyed Allende's ZORRO (yes, that one) in both spanish and english and both are excellent (nice retcon job: she invalidates nothing from the original, the movies, or even the TV show) but the narrative voice rang a bit truer in spanish where the narrator is more clearly Allende, projecting herself into the story.
(Which metacontext of course takes it back into lit fic territory...)

Translations I read these days are mostly Manga and Japanese fantasy...

A while back I tried out soviet SF but the tone just didn't ring right to me. Some of the short stories, while of recent vintage at the time, felt... raw and dated...

SF still tends to be more of a western culture (primarily anglic) playground.

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Old 08-02-2012, 09:10 AM   #21
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I'd *like* to read more in French, primarily to keep my language skills up, but it's hard to find good material. I would love to learn more about Quebecois fiction, but the ebooks are not available. For instance, there was one year where the CBC Radio Canada Reads series picked a French author, and Kobo only had the English version of the book. That is one instance where I would have chosen the French if it was available.

So if I do want to read in French, it's all stuff like Dumas and Verne off Project Gutenberg----and that makes it less 'fun reading' and more 'language exercise' to me since I have read most of that in English already. If someone could point me to a webpage which lists, say, 25 great Quebecois novels with links to purchase ebooks, I'd love it. But so far, no luck
I also like to read in French (my only "truly foreign" language), and for the same reason - just to keep it up. Living in California, there would be plenty of chances to speak Spanish (if I spoke it), but not so many to speak French - not, at least, without flying 2,000 miles to Quebec or 5,000 miles to France.

Luckily I read pretty slowly in French, though, so a few e-books last me a long time. And, I find it helps if I've read the book in English, even if a long time ago, so I have a general sense of the story to help me out a bit if I get stuck. So I am actually happier with Dumas, Verne, Conan Doyle (for some reason widely translated into French) and other "classic" authors available on Gutenberg. I also just bought all 7 Harry Potter e-books in French, and those should last me pretty much forever

I'm not nearly good enough at French to really distinguish between "French French" and "Quebecois French". Speaking of Quebecois books, though, I really like Louise Penny's Inspector Gamache mystery books - if you like that genre, and haven't found them, you might try them out. Although written in English, some are available in French in DTB, but AFAIK no e-books are available in French. They are generally well-reviewed, and have won or been nominated for a bunch of mystery awards, although I don't know how they are regarded in Penny's adopted Quebec.

As far as variants of English - I speak US English, but adore historical mysteries. And many (most?) of those are written/published in the UK, so I read UK crime (notice - "crime" and not "mysteries"!) voraciously. I also like modern UK crime novels, but not in preference to US mysteries - I just like them both. By reading UK novels, I get to figure out UK-US equivalents like pavement = sidewalk, hire-purchase = lease, biscuits = cookies, crisps = chips, chips = fries, etc. etc. I still have no idea, however, what the UK equivalent of an American biscuit would be (definitely NOT a scone, although people have tried to tell me that), or even if such a thing exists in the UK...

Ditto for Australian crime novels, which I also like for the sense of place and culture, but they are harder to come by in the US.

Last edited by sufue; 08-02-2012 at 09:27 AM.
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Old 08-02-2012, 09:34 AM   #22
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I like to read (fiction) books in the other (non-US) English.

I find it to be amazing that regional phases can totally stymie my ability to figure a meaning from context.


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Old 08-02-2012, 10:28 AM   #23
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I still have no idea, however, what the UK equivalent of an American biscuit would be (definitely NOT a scone, although people have tried to tell me that), or even if such a thing exists in the UK...
I think scone is the closest equivalent we have (Not to be confused with an American scone which is different again)

American Biscuit
http://www.joyofbaking.com/Biscuits.html
UK Scone
http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/scones_1285
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Old 08-02-2012, 11:20 AM   #24
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I think scone is the closest equivalent we have (Not to be confused with an American scone which is different again)

American Biscuit
http://www.joyofbaking.com/Biscuits.html
UK Scone
http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/scones_1285
The problem is, the scone has sugar in it and the biscuit does not. That makes them not very much like each other.

I should say something on topic here too. My Russian never got good enough read much. It always seemed like too much work. I've not even looked at anything for 10 years or so. I do read authors other than U.S. - Canadian, British, Australian, and South African that I can think of off the top of my head.

Greg Weeks

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Old 08-02-2012, 11:21 AM   #25
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There are lots of food items that simply have no equivalent in other countries.
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Old 08-02-2012, 11:28 AM   #26
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I think scone is the closest equivalent we have (Not to be confused with an American scone which is different again)

American Biscuit
http://www.joyofbaking.com/Biscuits.html
UK Scone
http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/scones_1285
I agree that's probably as close as it gets, but they are still different. I don't know if it's the self-rising flour, which (my understanding) has the baking powder already mixed in, vs. the traditional (here) separate flour and baking powder, so they just rise differently, and so taste different, and have a different texture.

Or maybe it's the different amount of sugar - my experience (based on once or twice yearly business trips to the UK; now, sadly, ended) is that UK scones taste noticeably sweeter than US biscuits, even before the jam .

But whatever it is, although I like them both, they are definitely not the same thing: scone ≠ biscuit .

(And, I agree, US scones are a different thing too - and much less tasty IMO...)
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Old 08-02-2012, 12:49 PM   #27
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(And, I agree, US scones are a different thing too - and much less tasty IMO...)
What is a US scone? I think all I've ever seen or heard of is the British variety.

Greg Weeks
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Old 08-02-2012, 08:23 PM   #28
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For that reason I have also begun to read more entertainment literature in Swedish, Danish, German and Japanese, and found that the same seems to hold true for books in those languages.
Wow, you are truly multilingual!!! I read English, Japanese, and Chinese stuff, mostly in the business, economics, and computer areas. The net is my playground these days.
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Old 08-02-2012, 09:08 PM   #29
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90% of my pleasure reading is in English, though when I read a book written by a German author I prefer to read the original (due to fixed prices for books in Germany I keep that to a minimum for books not in PD, it feels like such a rip-off).

Mandarin I mostly use for business (e-mails, newspaper articles, machine catalogues, etc). Reading books in Chinese is quite slow and tedious. My Vietnamese is mostly restricted to verbal chitchat and texting, I have never taken a lesson but I do reasonably well in a conversion. Even though I know that starting to read books is exactly what I would need to take me to the next level I am such a lazy bum that I feel tired just thinking about it.

I learned French and Spanish long ago and still understand quite a bit when listening though it takes me a few days of practice to get back to speaking it. All that grammar made me lose interest, besides I have had no opportunities to use them for many years. I read the occasional article on websites and find those quite easy to understand.

As for the other languages I have learned (Russian, Portuguese, and Japanese), I have "given it all back to the teachers", as the Chinese say. Taiwanese I hear almost every day so I can understand a little, same with Cantonese. Their written forms are, of course, virtually identical to Mandarin.

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Old 08-03-2012, 12:01 AM   #30
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I used to read a lot in German, but haven't been able to as much recently - availability is a real problem as I don't travel there as much as I used to. I'm going for a month next year, though, so if anyone has any suggestions for something contemporary to read, I would appreciate it. (And I can't say that I've been really blown away by anything I've read recently in German, either).

I probably read more british works than American ones - I really like the 19th Century, for example.

I don't think that there's anything comparable to "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy" or "Smiley's People" - those are just outstanding books. Unfortunately, LeCarre's later work is, IMO, not nearly as good.
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