What does it take to translate a best-seller into another language?

Words that don’t have a direct translation into English, but which we really wish did.

The joy of languages is that for all the similarities you can find between some of them (like Celtic languages such as Irish and Welsh, or Swedish and Danish), it’s the differences that can be most interesting.

The cliché that Inuits have 50 words for snow is apparently true, while some words that can’t be translated into English, like schadenfreude, have been adopted by English speakers.

Then there are words like fernweh (German for ‘feeling homesick for a place you have never been to’) and mamihlapinatapei (Yagan, meaning ‘a wordless yet meaningful look shared by two people who both desire to initiate something but are both reluctant to start’), that would be very satisfying to sneak into conversation.

But for all the fun you can have with trying to use these words in everyday chats, think of the translators whose job it is to bring best-selling novels from one language to another.

What happens when a word simply doesn’t exist, or a sentence doesn’t quite make sense once translated?

Translating a novel

The author Juan Gabriel Vásquez is no…

Read more | thejournal.ie

Photo credit | “language” by Johan Klovsjö on Flickr

Posted on June 16, 2014 in Field of translation

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