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Off topic: The magic of translation
Thread poster: Stéphan Goldsmith

Stéphan Goldsmith
Local time: 20:24
English to French
+ ...
Jun 20, 2003

First of all, I apologize to those of you who hoped that the Proz forums would remain Harry Potter free

But I wanted to share with you the following article written by Hugh Schofield for BBC Online, especially for the part addressing the translation into French of the 5th book.

Stéphan

____________________
France impatient for 'Arree Pottaire

Some time on Saturday morning a car will drive up outside the home of Jean-Francois Menard and a small packet will be handed over.

He will thank the delivery-man and repair to his office, where he will unwrap the parcel and - with a deep intake of breath - set to work.

Monsieur Menard is France's Harry Potter supremo. Translator of the first four volumes of the series, he is the man responsible for such coinages as "Poudlard" - for Hogwarts - "Moldus" - for Muggles - and "Nick-Quasi-Sans-Tete" - for Nearly Headless Nick.

Working at the rate of 10 pages a day, he will complete the French version of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix in about 90 working days.

Assuming he has the odd weekend off, that will take him through to mid-October, which allows just six weeks for proof-reading, publication and distribution before French launch day on 3 December.

Much rests on Monsieur Menard.

The French are as crazy as everyone else about Harry Potter - or to phrase it in the vernacular - 'Arree Pottaire. More than 12 million copies of the first four books have been sold here, and anticipation for the fifth is at fever-pitch.

"On the fan-club chat forums there are essentially two messages," says Marie Leroy-Lena of the publisher Gallimard.

"One half are asking how can we get hold of the book in English, and the other half are imploring: please don't tell us the story - we want it to be a surprise in December!"

At WH Smith in central Paris - the capital's biggest English language bookshop - an evening of wizardry is planned for Friday, with readings from the Harry Potter books and performing magicians, before the book goes on sale at 0101 BST (midnight in the UK).

"The books are a phenomenon of modern French society. A lot of fans are not going to be able to wait till December, so we are predicting big sales to French-speakers as well as to expatriate British and Americans," says store manager Sylvie Goffinet.

WH Smith plans to have 3,000 in stock for the launch, of which more than 500 have been reserved.

Far from pooh-poohing the books - as it might have done - as a mass-marketed Anglo-Saxon hype, France's intellectual establishment has in general embraced Pottermania.

This is for the good reason that here as elsewhere it has worked wonders on reading levels. (The French are as paranoid about declining standards as the British).

While teachers swear by it, the left bank "pointy-heads" explore its inner meaning.

"The books of JK Rowling are the transposition into a world of fantasy of the problems of adolescence. They are novels of initiation for a generation without moral bearings," writes psychoanalyst Anne-Cecile Sanchez.

"They are above all about metamorphosis, and what is adolescence if not a period when the human body undergoes the effects of change?"

Readers might argue that the books are actually just cracking stories.

As for the plot of number five, French Potter experts have gleaned as little as anyone else from the internet.

In other words they know that is supposed to be more complex than the previous volumes, that a teenage Harry has some kind of romantic encounter, and that Professor Dumbledore tells him a deep secret about himself.

But beyond that - unless they read English or are called Jean-Francois Menard - they will have to wait to December to find out.


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Caroline Mackay-Sim  Identity Verified

Local time: 11:24
English to French
+ ...
Thank you sgoldsmith Jun 21, 2003

Thank you for an enjoyable insight into the French view of 'Arree Pottaire. Poor them, having to wait till December!

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sylver  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:24
English to French
Thanks... Jun 21, 2003

sgoldsmith wrote:

First of all, I apologize to those of you who hoped that the Proz forums would remain Harry Potter free

But I wanted to share with you the following article written by Hugh Schofield for BBC Online, especially for the part addressing the translation into French of the 5th book.

Stéphan


An interesting article. I am amongst the folks waiting for volume 5 in English to land in the "local" bookstores. Boy, would I love to be in Mr Menard shoes, with 6 month of work on Harry Potter's latest book. By the way, I don't know what you guys think but IMO, his job has been great so far.

Cheers,
Sylvain


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Narasimhan Raghavan  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:54
English to Tamil
+ ...
Why should Hogwarts become Poudlard? Jun 21, 2003

I read the first 3 Potter books in French. All the 4 in the English original and the 2nd and 4th books in German. As I have mentioned elsewhere in another thread involving the debate about translations by native and non-native translators, (http://www.proz.com/topic/11531) I took the example of Harry Potter translation, when I said that for translating literary works, nothing can improve upon a native translator. The French versions were a delight to read. But can anyone of the Francophones explain the reason for changing Hogwarts to Poudlard and Snape to Rogue, just to cite a few examples? In German they were not changed but Privet Drive was. Is there any guideline for such things?

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xxxElena Sgarbo  Identity Verified
Italian to English
+ ...
One Potter word is now officially part of the English language Jun 21, 2003

...That word is "muggle", which has made its way into the Oxford English dictionary, as follows:


Muggle: invented by JK (Joanne Kathleen) Rowling (b. 1965), British author of children's fantasy fiction (see quot. 1997).

In the fiction of JK Rowling: a person who possesses no magical powers. Hence in allusive and extended uses: a person who lacks a particular skill or skills, or who is regarded as inferior in some way.


The news is at:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/cbbcnews/hi/uk/newsid_2882000/2882895.stm

I was just inquiring in the Spanish forum if "muggle" had been translated into Spanish, and Paul R. asked also about the other terms, like quidditch, etc.

It appears, our colleagues tell us, that the Spanish versions keep the original coinages. (Pronunciation is a different stroy, of course...)

I find it very interesting that "muggle" in French has been translated into something more vernacular, as have "Hogwarts" and other fascinating neologisms of the Harry Potter saga.

....And I need to go now, because since the 5th Harry Potter book arrived in our household 3 hours ago today, my 7 year old has not left his room (he's finishing chapter 3 and tells me something really unexpected has happened to Harry, and there's this fella Kingsley Shacklebolt.... OK, I'll stop here), and we need to leave the house, but I'll need a crane to move my son....

Interesting topic, sgoldsmith

Elena


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lien
Netherlands
Local time: 01:24
English to French
+ ...
Pourquoi changer les noms Jun 22, 2003

[/quote]delight to read. But can anyone of the Francophones explain the reason for changing Hogwarts to Poudlard and Snape to Rogue, just to cite a few examples? In German they were not changed but Privet Drive was. Is there any guideline for such things? [/quote]

Parce que Hogwarts, par exemple, ne ressemble en rien a un mot francais. Cela n'evoque aucune association avec des concepts existants, comme en anglais.

Puisque c'est une traduction, il faut que cela ait les memes resonnances et la meme familiarite pour les lecteurs d'une autre langue qu'il y en a pour les lecteurs de langue anglaise.

Lien


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Narasimhan Raghavan  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:54
English to Tamil
+ ...
D'accord Jun 22, 2003

Très intéressant. Hogwarts, par exemple, ne ressemble en rien à un mot français. D’accord. Et Poudlard le fait? Et Rogue? Je ne critique pas. Je voudrais seulement savoir, pourquoi un nom propre a été changé. Est-ce qu’on peut citer le traducteur concernant cet aspect?


lien wrote:

delight to read. But can anyone of the Francophones explain the reason for changing Hogwarts to Poudlard and Snape to Rogue, just to cite a few examples? In German they were not changed but Privet Drive was. Is there any guideline for such things? [/quote]

Parce que Hogwarts, par exemple, ne ressemble en rien a un mot francais. Cela n'evoque aucune association avec des concepts existants, comme en anglais.

Puisque c'est une traduction, il faut que cela ait les memes resonnances et la meme familiarite pour les lecteurs d'une autre langue qu'il y en a pour les lecteurs de langue anglaise.

Lien[/quote]


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sylver  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:24
English to French
Poudlard, Snape and others Jun 22, 2003

Narasimhan Raghavan wrote:

I read the first 3 Potter books in French. All the 4 in the English original and the 2nd and 4th books in German. As I have mentioned elsewhere in another thread involving the debate about translations by native and non-native translators, (http://www.proz.com/topic/11531) I took the example of Harry Potter translation, when I said that for translating literary works, nothing can improve upon a native translator. The French versions were a delight to read. But can anyone of the Francophones explain the reason for changing Hogwarts to Poudlard and Snape to Rogue, just to cite a few examples? In German they were not changed but Privet Drive was. Is there any guideline for such things?

Translating fiction is re-creating an atmosphere, a feeling. I guess the rule, if you want to call it that, is to write as the author would have written it, had he written it in the target language.

Names, as Lien mentionned, not only point to a specific person, but also convey a feeling that is different in each language.
Consider the following names: "Oum","Jiaie", "Pom", "Amed", "Paul", "Joe", "Sorbonne",... You will realize that each of these names has a feeling to it, and how you react to them depends on your language of origin.

Meeting Mr. Jiaie (a business man) made me smile, but it is a common Thai name, and nobody would find it odd or funny ...here.

So, if a name give a certain feeling in the source language, that feeling must be preserved in the target language.

An other factor is that often, as is the case for "Hogwart" and "Snape", fiction names are close to common words, sometimes suggesting a certain caracteristic of the name bearer. As much as possible, that meaning has to be preserved, providing this can be done without breaking the atmosphere and pace of the novel.

Snape, for instance, has a strong tendency to "snap". (To speak sharply, abruptly, or irritably) "Rogue", the translation for Snape, means "rude and haughty" in French, which, you will certainly agree, is a fitting description of the character.

Some thoughts. Names are an important part of a book. Take the "Lord of the Rings". What if "Gandalf" was called "George"? Or What if "Arwen" was called "Gertrude"?

Cheers,
Sylvain


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Narasimhan Raghavan  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:54
English to Tamil
+ ...
Changing the proper nouns Jun 22, 2003

I fully agree with you. Just as Abraracourcix becomes Vitalstatistix in the English version of the Asterix comics. Am I correct in assuming that there are 2 schools of thought on this subject? One would maintain that the names may be changed and the other would oppose this view.
I am also reminded of the German translations of the books of the Israeli author Ephraim Kishon. Kishon is certainly fond of the German versions. He has written in German too. Of these German translations he used to say that they are as if written by himself in German. And I think that this is the ultimate praise a translator could get. And to think that the German translation is derived from the English translation of the original Hebrew version.


sylver wrote:

Narasimhan Raghavan wrote:

I read the first 3 Potter books in French. All the 4 in the English original and the 2nd and 4th books in German. As I have mentioned elsewhere in another thread involving the debate about translations by native and non-native translators, (http://www.proz.com/topic/11531) I took the example of Harry Potter translation, when I said that for translating literary works, nothing can improve upon a native translator. The French versions were a delight to read. But can anyone of the Francophones explain the reason for changing Hogwarts to Poudlard and Snape to Rogue, just to cite a few examples? In German they were not changed but Privet Drive was. Is there any guideline for such things?

Translating fiction is re-creating an atmosphere, a feeling. I guess the rule, if you want to call it that, is to write as the author would have written it, had he written it in the target language.

Names, as Lien mentionned, not only point to a specific person, but also convey a feeling that is different in each language.
Consider the following names: "Oum","Jiaie", "Pom", "Amed", "Paul", "Joe", "Sorbonne",... You will realize that each of these names has a feeling to it, and how you react to them depends on your language of origin.

Meeting Mr. Jiaie (a business man) made me smile, but it is a common Thai name, and nobody would find it odd or funny ...here.

So, if a name give a certain feeling in the source language, that feeling must be preserved in the target language.

An other factor is that often, as is the case for "Hogwart" and "Snape", fiction names are close to common words, sometimes suggesting a certain caracteristic of the name bearer. As much as possible, that meaning has to be preserved, providing this can be done without breaking the atmosphere and pace of the novel.

Snape, for instance, has a strong tendency to "snap". (To speak sharply, abruptly, or irritably) "Rogue", the translation for Snape, means "rude and haughty" in French, which, you will certainly agree, is a fitting description of the character.

Some thoughts. Names are an important part of a book. Take the "Lord of the Rings". What if "Gandalf" was called "George"? Or What if "Arwen" was called "Gertrude"?

Cheers,
Sylvain


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Thierry LOTTE  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:24
Member (2001)
English to French
+ ...
OxfordEnglish Dic is not always right ! Jun 26, 2003

One Potter word is now officially part of the English language Jun 21

...That word is "muggle", which has made its way into the Oxford English dictionary, as follows:


Muggle: invented by JK (Joanne Kathleen) Rowling (b. 1965), British author of children's fantasy fiction (see quot. 1997).

In the fiction of JK Rowling: a person who possesses no magical powers. Hence in allusive and extended uses: a person who lacks a particular skill or skills, or who is regarded as inferior in some way.


False :

In "Jive" (U.S Black slang) A Muggle is also well known as a Marijuana Joint.
This is a rather old word for it. Chester Himes use it many times in his novels (i.e : "Cotton comes to Harlem"). This is also the title of a famous Louis Armstrong number "Muggles".

References : "Black Slang" A Dictionary of Afro-American Talk - by Clarence Major (Rutledge and Kegan Paul - London - 1970).

Muggles are also well known because Jimmy Carter (or was it Bill Clinton) tried it but never inhales the smoke...

Swingingly yours,


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sylver  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:24
English to French
Not quite false Jun 27, 2003

Thierry LOTTE wrote:

One Potter word is now officially part of the English language Jun 21

...That word is "muggle", which has made its way into the Oxford English dictionary, as follows:


Muggle: invented by JK (Joanne Kathleen) Rowling (b. 1965), British author of children's fantasy fiction (see quot. 1997).

In the fiction of JK Rowling: a person who possesses no magical powers. Hence in allusive and extended uses: a person who lacks a particular skill or skills, or who is regarded as inferior in some way.


False :

In "Jive" (U.S Black slang) A Muggle is also well known as a Marijuana Joint.
This is a rather old word for it. Chester Himes use it many times in his novels (i.e : "Cotton comes to Harlem"). This is also the title of a famous Louis Armstrong number "Muggles".

References : "Black Slang" A Dictionary of Afro-American Talk - by Clarence Major (Rutledge and Kegan Paul - London - 1970).

Muggles are also well known because Jimmy Carter (or was it Bill Clinton) tried it but never inhales the smoke...

Swingingly yours,



Disagree. Althought it is spelled the same, both words are clearly distinct, both in meaning and origin.

Therefore that entry remains quite correct. If that specific Jive slang was listed in the oxford dictionary, it would have an entry on it's own, with it's own derivation, meaning and usage informations.

As a side note, "Jive" is also a type of music midway between swing and rock.

Sleepingly yours,
Sylvain


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xxxGlowFrog
English to French
Hogwarts Vs Poudlard Jul 11, 2003

Very quickly - on the Hogwarts as Poudlard debate. It's a clever translation, actually since 'Poudlard' means, literally, lard / bacon flea. Which isn't too far from hog = pig(ish)/ bacon AND warts = a skin affliction of some kind.

So I think the 'feeling' of the word is preserved.


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Rick Henry  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 18:24
Italian to English
+ ...
And don't forget... Jul 11, 2003

sylver wrote:
Disagree. Althought it is spelled the same, both words are clearly distinct, both in meaning and origin.

That words often change meaning (and often completly!) over time.

R.
==


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