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second translation - will it
Thread poster: Vladimir Dubisskiy

Vladimir Dubisskiy  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 18:05
English to Russian
+ ...
Oct 12, 2003

I would like to get peole's opinion on the following:
Sci-Fi fans may know Reality Dysfunction saga by Peter Hamilton. Awesome book and I enjoy it very much (in English, naturally). Recently I found that there is a Russian translation, intrigued I looked at it - it was horrible. Mistakes, inconsistency, done extremely unprofessionaly... poor Russian readers.
Say, I would like to translate the saga and I would do it good - will people read it. i mean if you have bought the book once, would you buy it again...
what do you think?
And I do not know whether that Russian translation was done under agreement with author/copyright holder, etc.
And I'd like opinion on "retranslation" in general, the above is just an example.
Thank you.

[Edited at 2003-10-12 02:57]


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Jason Roberts  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:05
Dutch to English
+ ...
Importance of the work a factor Oct 12, 2003

I can't speak to your book in particular, but I have some general thoughts on 'retranslation'. If the book is important, I would say go for it.

There is an excellent Dutch novel by Harry Mulisch which is translated into English as "The Assault". This book is important for the study of Dutch literature, but is also a brilliantly crafted piece of literature. The English translation is shockingly awful. It doesn't just miss somethings here and there, the translation actually obliterates some of the most important things the book achieves in the original version. As it is, when I teach Dutch literature in translation courses I find myself spending lots and lots of time explaining to the non-Dutch speakers how things are obscured by the English version. I know professors who choose to pass the book by rather than go through the hassle.

If someone were to retranslate this book I would buy it in a second, and I know that others would as well. I would probably throw a party and hand out copies. (If I could negotiate my way into being the one to do the translation, I would jump for joy!)



Vladimir Dubisskiy wrote:

I would like to get peole's opinion on the following:
Sci-Fi fans may know Reality Dysfunction saga by Peter Hamilton. Awesome book and I enjoy it very much (in English, naturally). Recently I found that there is a Russian translation, intrigued I looked at it - it was horrible. Mistakes, inconsistency, done extremely unprofessionaly... poor Russian readers.
Say, I would like to translate the saga and I would do it good - will people read it. i mean if you have bought the book once, would you buy it again...
what do you think?
And I do not know whether that Russian translation was done under agreement with author/copyright holder, etc.
And I'd like opinion on "retranslation" in general, the above is just an example.
Thank you.

[Edited at 2003-10-12 02:57]


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Vladimir Dubisskiy  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 18:05
English to Russian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
thanks, Jason Oct 12, 2003

Well, that space opera I have mentioned is definitely not of big importance in terms of history/education etc. It is entertaining.. well, like Space Wars, but (as to me) much better.
However, for me, as a translator, there are linguistic challenges there I'd like to meet.

[quote]Jason Roberts wrote:

I can't speak to your book in particular, but I have some general thoughts on 'retranslation'. If the book is important, I would say go for it.


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Berni Armstrong  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:05
Member
English
+ ...
Second time around buying Oct 12, 2003

Hi Vladimir,

if I haven't already got a book which was originally written in a foreign language I can make no headway in (like Russian for example) - then I do tend to read the reviews of available translations before plumming for one and buying it.

However, if I have already bought a book and read in the trade papers that there is a new translation that knocks the spots off the one I have, I am afraid that unless I loved the book to death, I would probably settle for having familiarised myself with it already and not fork out the extra expense. I imagine that would be most people's attitude.

This would also explain why, except for classic texts, so few modern novels get revisited by translators in the lifetime of the average reader.

Do it for love by all means - but don't expect to make your nest egg from it

All the best,
Berni


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Vladimir Dubisskiy  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 18:05
English to Russian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks, Berni Oct 12, 2003

It was nice to get response from you, in particular.
Yes, that's what I thought fro myself...
It is a piyt, 'cause the book is so good, but those guys have just mutilated it...

And with sci-fi translations there are some interesting issues to play with. Like here, instead of "skyscrapers" there are "spacescrapers" (and it's on the station in deep space); then names and some 'yet-to-come' gauges and technologies, more.
Yes, I will start probably for myself...
(first I wanted to contact the author and shout: alarm! achtung! your work was brutalized..):-))

[quote]Berni Armstrong wrote:

Hi Vladimir,

if I haven't already got a book which was originally written in a foreign language I can make no headway in (like Russian for example) - then I do tend to read the reviews of available translations before plumming for one and buying it.

However,


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Ivan Petryshyn
English to Italian
+ ...
Second translation Oct 13, 2003

The second translation is acceptable only in 2 cases :
1. if the translator doesn't know the source language but the translation MUST be done ( the second translator is supposed then to be a perfect one into other languages and a real master of the target language );
2. if that is the only possible way to " retrieve " the original , the national literature is in a great demand of such a translation because of social developments . Ivan Petryshyn


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PRAKAASH  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 04:35
Member (2007)
English to Hindi
+ ...
Why not! Oct 13, 2003

If you think that your translation is better than the already existing one, I think that you must leave the conclusion to the reader that which is the best one and you'd jump into the market with your creation! After all readers are the final selectors, not translators or authors. Authors/writers/translators may only write/translate a book but can't sell the same. It can only be sold only if liked by the readers! I am sure that best always wins the race.

PRAKAASH


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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 01:05
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
If you've got the time, go for it! Oct 13, 2003

To get rid of book-club salesmen who ring at suppertime, I love saying I prefer to read books in the original languages... because I know how hard it is to translate them well. Badly translated books do more harm than good.

Not everyone finds it easy to learn languages, and I need good translations to read e.g. Spanish authors, or Vaclav Havel. I have in fact learnt a lot from good translations.

If you can get an agreement with the author you might be able to compete the first translation out of the market. If the book is that good, new generations will read it, and your translation might make the difference between international success or failure. People pass on good books, if they can understand the language, but they just drop the bad translations.

Literary translation is a art, and my quote of the week is:
Art is easy. It's doing it well that's so difficult!

Best of luck!

[Edited at 2003-10-13 11:42]


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Vladimir Dubisskiy  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 18:05
English to Russian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
many thanks Oct 13, 2003

I am very grateful for the inputs. I will try to contact the author and/or copyright holder. Do you think it is better to show them something done (and to get - do not know from whom - a professional feedback); or, to start, it would be enough simply to declare my opinion and offer the project?

Thanks,
Vladimir


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xxxYxz
English to Russian
+ ...
Go for it! Oct 17, 2003

I've just come accross this topic. Vladimir, if you are going to have your translation published in Russia (and if you succeed - we talked about it:)) there's no doubt the book will be sold. I can speak only for Moscow, but have you ever seen those piles of books in the "metro"? This is a HUGE market and people do buy a lot. Even if it is a second translation, maybe a lot of people have not read the first one. About 10 million people in Moscow only and all of them actually read - my, oh my, can you imagine that? You know all this, of course, what I'm trying to say is - even a second transaltion will do good. Go for it!

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Vladimir Dubisskiy  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 18:05
English to Russian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
yes, but... Oct 17, 2003

There are serious buts here (well, as always.. dialectically speaking)).
First - it's a sci-fi thing, very popular; and in order to translate it I will have to contact writer / publisher.
Then, I have to find Russian publisher, but the has already been published in Russia (poor translation, but anyway..).

And the Russian publisher is supposed to pay me something; but the work actually has been already paid for (we are not speaking quality, just the fact).

well, we'll see. But it is so interesting, inspiring...


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Gordon Darroch
Local time: 00:05
Dutch to English
+ ...
retranslation Oct 30, 2003

Why not retranslate a book if you think the original translator hasn't done his job? If a lousy builder made a mess of your bathroom, you wouldn't think twice about getting another contractor in to put it right, so what's different with books? Milan Kundera's The Joke has been translated into English no less than five times, largely because the author himself was dissatisfied with the translator's efforts. Kundera once sacked one of his translators for replacing his semi-colons with full-stops: perhaps if all writers were so demanding they'd get a better service, which means in turn that good, conscientious translators like yourself would get the commissions and the rewards they deserve.

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Vladimir Dubisskiy  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 18:05
English to Russian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks, Gordon for your input Oct 31, 2003

Yes - I probably will try - and the pleasure of doing it...

Thank you,
Vladimir

[quote]Gordon Darroch wrote:

Why not retranslate a book if you think the original translator hasn't done his job?


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