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Old 04-25-2008, 07:38 AM   #16
HarryT
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English only readers (like me ) can only read their works in translation - I'm never clear how much my enjoyment is due to the quality of the source, or the quality of the translation.

It's hard to provide an objective assessment if you can't read in the original language; but the English translations of 'War and Peace' and 'Three Musketeers' I've read are both worthy of inclusion in a Best Novels list.
I think you do miss a lot by reading in translation. You get the "story", yes, but you inevitably miss out on all the nuances that the author is putting in via the original language.

For example, I'm not a Christian, but I do very much enjoy reading the Bible, simply as a great work of literature. I am fortunate in that, because I've studied the classics for many years, I'm able to read the New Testament in the original Greek rather than having to rely on an English translation. The Greek has all sorts of "plays on words" and puns which are completely untranslatable into English, and which you don't even realise are there when you read an English translation. There are also many cases where a Greek word has a number of meanings, and the translator has chosen one of them, whereas the text takes on a very different meaning if you interpret the word with one of its other meanings.

Reading in translation is a very "second-rate" experience.
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Old 04-25-2008, 08:55 AM   #17
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Reading in translation is a very "second-rate" experience.
I suppose it depends on the book. I have read some science fiction books were the Swedish translation had better language then the original for example. And I have not read the DaVinci Code but I might read it in Swedish and hope that the language is better since according to review the language is dreadful in the original.
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Old 04-25-2008, 11:02 AM   #18
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I read a lot in English, French, Spanish and Italian, although I prefer Portuguese translations for easy reading.

I can't think of myself only reading books originally written in Portuguese. I'd be missing a lot!!! My favourite book is Les Miserables by Victor Hugo, for instance. I've read it from a poor cheap Portuguese translation, whith lots of typos in it. Yet it was the only book ever to bring tears to my eyes. I've never read the original French version (one of these days I centainly will).

Poetry, however, is a completely different deal, since it mainly depends on word-gaming.

So... for those who say they don't read foreign authors because they don't want to read poor translations I say: give it a try

(You're welcome to send me private messages for some Portuguese literature recommendations.)
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Old 04-25-2008, 11:25 AM   #19
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Reading in translation is a very "second-rate" experience.
I so badly wish this wasn't true or that there was a simple alternative to spending the years required to learn the author's language. It has made many great works just okay for me. It can be difficult to get inside the head of someone else only through their writing. It's harder still when they're from a different period or culture. But when you add to that the problems with translations, it often becomes almost impossible for me.
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Old 04-25-2008, 12:34 PM   #20
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I dunno.I rather hope thats not the case,but Im a tad bit inclined to agree,in regards to poems.
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Old 04-25-2008, 01:28 PM   #21
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well, we don't have the expression "lost in translation" for nothing, of course, but i agree with Ricardo : if i only read books which i could read in the original version i would have missed out on some really great books (including some portugese authors ). i have read books which were obviously difficult to translate (SS Van Dine in french is a lot more stilted than the original, i have discovered, and Dorothy L. Sayers also loses quite a lot in the french versions i read), however i have also read some translations which were magnificently done (Boris Vian, a brilliant french author, translated --among others-- Raymond Chandler, as well as Jabberwocky). however, as a rule, when possible, i prefer to read books which were written in languages like portuguese or italian in french translations, whereas i would prefer to read a german work in english. i think the biggest problem with translating works is that languages seem have a sort of inherent "ambiance" or "tone" about them (for lack of a better word), and sometimes this gets in the way of the ambiance created in the original text, if they are too different.
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Old 04-25-2008, 02:42 PM   #22
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i have discovered, and Dorothy L. Sayers also loses quite a lot in the french versions i read),
How were all the french quotes done in the translated versions? Were they in english with no translation?
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Old 04-25-2008, 02:50 PM   #23
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How were all the french quotes done in the translated versions? Were they in english with no translation?
in general (not only for Sayers), when you are reading a french translation, any french words or expressions that are used in the original text are signalled with italics and an * and at the bottom of the page they say "in french in the text."

EDIT : but they leave them in french, of course.
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Old 04-29-2008, 12:33 AM   #24
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Ulysses has spent the past year in my guest bathroom. I have no desire to finish it and my guests apparently don't either. The pages look barely used.
How about toilet paper!
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Old 05-02-2008, 06:49 AM   #25
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well, we don't have the expression "lost in translation" for nothing, of course, ...
Like the old story of the machine translator which translated the expression "out of sight, out of mind" into "invisible, insane"
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Old 05-02-2008, 08:34 AM   #26
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Like the old story of the machine translator which translated the expression "out of sight, out of mind" into "invisible, insane"
that's hilarious !!!
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