Thoughts on : books and translation

On the picture : Looking for Alaska, John Green and Pretty Little Liars, Sara Shepard, and their French translations.

Hi guys! Today I’m coming to you with a new book discussion, about an issue that’s close to my heart: books and translation. As you all know (and if you don’t, yet, well now you do!), I am French, so English isn’t my mother language. Reading almost exclusively in English was a challenge, at first, but I realized early on that it was something I really wanted to do.

Why, might be the question you’ll want to ask me. Sure, because French is a beautiful language, so many people told me that. Early on, I found out that all the books I was reading were originally written in English. What I really wanted, was to read the original words, directly written by the author, and not by a translator. So that’s why I turned to reading books directly in English. I feel more connected to the author’s words this way, I know I am reading everything he wrote. Moreover, I have to say that so many words can’t be translated without losing a little bit of the original meaning. For instance, in French, there’s not a real equivalent for the word, wanderlust, and that’s a shame, because it represents me so well. Aren’t you scared when you’re reading a translation, that it’s not exactly the same story? Well, I am.

But what if everyone just read in English? I have to say, reading books in English improved my speaking for many, many years now, and I’m grateful for that. I think it’s important, no matter what your mother langage is, if you want to really learn, and understand another langage, to read in it. However, without books like Looking for Alaska being translated many, many years ago, I wouldn’t have come to reading those books, and be where I am, now. That’s why I still think translation is essential. It allows people to discover books they wouldn’t know about it the first place, if they weren’t translated in their langage. Without translation, I wouldn’t have read young adult books in the first place. I wouldn’t have read Inkheart, by Cornelia Funke, a German author, if it hadn’t been translated, because sadly my knowledge of this langage goes way, way back. So, in a way, I am grateful for translators, and all the hard work they provide to help people reach an audience, such as the translation software company Smartling, which translates website content into many languages, so that businesses can effectively communicate with their audience.  I’m guessing it’s impossible that the billions of Potterheads in the world could read J.K Rowling’s work in English, because not everyone is fluent. Yet, it’s probably the wizard’s most famous story in the entire world. Because it has been translated in more than 50 countries, allowing this story to be discovered and loved by billions…no matter what language it was originally written in.

Let’s discuss ! What do you think about books and translations? Are there books you’ve discovered in another language, that you wouldn’t have know about without it being translated? Do you read books in another language, why, or why not? Let me know in comments ! 🙂

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Book blogger, travel blogger, writer. 📚 |🌍 | 💞 Writing & Communications Graduate. French. Living on love, wanderlust and ya books.

11 thoughts on “Thoughts on : books and translation

  1. I do think book should be translated so that everyone can enjoy the story. I don’t, I read in English. I am learning Spanish, and can read in it. But reading a whole book would be too much. Great post, Marie!

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  2. My fluent language is English, and I’ve never even tried to or thought about reading a book that was translated from a different language. I think the problems with translations can sometimes be a misinterpretation of the meaning of certain words and that can, change the entire mood of the atmosphere within a book.
    I didn’t even know you were French! xoxo

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  3. I absolutely love translation in fiction! I am learning French in school and I wish to do it at university so reading my favourite books (such as Harry Potter) in French is so helpful to me as I get to see French outside of lessons! x

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