Thursday, May 14, 2015

The Translation of Books: Worth It Or No?

I'm excited to be promoting this translation software that I was recently made aware of, called Smartling, a translation platform dedicated for businesses and their websites, mobile apps, etc. Basically, instead of using the oh so reliable Google translate, the Smartling platform  allows you to deliver and manage content into other languages and countries through its management system WITHOUT having to constantly email files back and forth, deciding what to translate and not to translate. It keeps all your translations in one place, in a more efficient manner.

The reason why I'm promoting this is because I am a linguistics major, and I've encountered a ton of languages in the papers I've read. Plus, I have read a decent amount of books that have been translated from one language to another (and you probably have too). And many times, I often wonder whether the translation from the other language to English affected my rating of the book. Is an accurate translation important to readers?

In my opinion, a translation is kind of a pain because you never know if what you're reading is truly accurate, especially when there are some things in other languages that just don't occur in English! So with that said, I would much rather like for the plot to stay consistent rather than the direct word to word translation. I rather have non-awkward English phrases that stays close to the original sentence, rather than suffer through some weird phrasing. However, I don't think this applies to all language to language translations. For example, the English translation of The Little Prince is very accurately translated from French, and that worked because those two languages are similar in word order. However, Nihal of the Valley of the Wind was translated from Italian, and the book overall did not work for me since the main character felt more like a young child, rather than the young, strong woman she was supposed to be. I suspect that it was due to a problem with translation, because it seems like all the Italian readers loved the series!

Languages differ so much in idiomatic expressions, morphology, word order, etc., and some things work in one language but not in another. So the writing can't just be accurately translated, but it also must be accommodated correctly! And because of this, I definitely think language plays a huge role in reading!

Do you think translated books are just as good as the original? Have you read a translated book yet? Hey bilingual readers! Have you ever read a book both translated into your language and in English? Was there a difference?