Translation & Literature | Book Snacks Babbles

Hi! Recently I’ve discovered a company called Smartling, a translation software company that translates website content into many languages so that businesses can effectively communicate with their audience. This company raised several thoughts in my head. After all, there are so many books that have been translated, to and from so many different languages! How would the world be today if these books hadn’t been translated? Completely different, wouldn’t it be?

I recently finished re-reading Inkheart by Cornelia Funke, and I loved it! I might even consider one of my favorite childhood books, but how would’ve I read this if it had not been translated from German to English? I wouldn’t have, and I would’ve missed out on a quite wonderful story. Another example would be Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier, a book also originally written in German. I quite enjoyed this story, and I would’ve missed out on it had it not been translated. For other good examples, you should check out Poulami’s post

Translation is wonderful, in allowing us to have access to pieces of literature and novels that we wouldn’t otherwise have access to. As translation is so crucial in sharing literature with the world, there are of course several issues that must be addressed. When I read books translated from another language, I often worry about whether the same story has been translated, and whether the writing style will remain the same. After all, a different language means for a whole different way of communication, and there are of course language slip-ups that happen when translating a whole story. I know from my personal reading as well as from other readers’ opinions that translated books do not always provide satisfying reading experiences. If this issue could be resolved, translated books would have a larger value and would reach more readers.

So those are my thoughts on translation and literature! We all know the value of the written word (or so I hope!), and the world would definitely be different if books hadn’t been translated; they wouldn’t be accessible to many people today. What are your thoughts on translated books? Do you agree with me? Disagree? Let me know in the comments below!

Analee 10

19 thoughts on “Translation & Literature | Book Snacks Babbles

  1. On the other hand, with books in other languages, maybe we’d be more motivated to learn other languages? I’m just thinking from a UK perspective here (not that I’m from the UK), but you think back to a hundred or so years ago, when anyone of a certain social status had to know at least French to be a part of respected society. Now, do we maybe not rely too much on subtitles and translations? Have English speakers become a bit too arrogant about languages?

    (I’m just playing devil’s advocate here, since I totally think translation is amazing!)

    Liked by 2 people

    • You bring up interesting points, Dani! It is true that having books in other languages may push readers to learn new languages, however I think that motivation is lost when a reader is daunted by learning another language, (and as a result they may also lose interest in the book altogether). Subtitles can have a pretty negative impact on English speakers as far as learning a language goes, and I would definitely say English speakers (or any people, for that matter) have gotten quite casual and careless with language! But the pros to translation in literature outweighs the cons we may see. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. As a translator (not of literature though), obviously I am completely behind translation of all kinds of texts to bring them to a wider audience.

    However, I would always prefer to read a book in the original language if I could (which I can with Spanish). What literary translators do is amazing – in a way they have to re-write the book/poem/play they are working with. There will be many times that their job is more adaptation than translation. Imagine how difficult it is to translate something into your language when an equivalent word or expression doesn’t exist! Then, as well as being accurate, you have to work hard to capture tone, mood, etc. And then finally, after all your work, your name is a footnote on the final edition!

    A very interesting post 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ooh that must be interesting! 🙂

      I would absolutely love to read a book in its original language if I could as well, and I do try occasionally for french books. (I’ve been in immersion in school since elementary. You’re so lucky to know Spanish by the way! I always wanted to learn it.) Of course, I’m much stronger in English than in French, so it’s easier to read a translated version, but I do try!

      Yes, I agree, translators have such important roles in literature, and such pressure too! Having to translate pieces of words into another language while maintaining the original mood of the writing must be quite difficult to do properly. There is a lot that goes into the translating process, and I believe that readers don’t always realize that when reading translated books before they complain or dislike the quality of the translation.

      Thank you, I’m glad you liked it! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

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