Saturday, August 27, 2011

Lost in Translation

I've been fortunate enough to have several of my novels translated into other languages: Spanish, Dutch, Portuguese, Czech. With Spanish, I can figure out if things are on the up and up. I can read along and see if the meaning is still clear and if sections are still in place. It takes me a lot longer to read my novels in Spanish, not only because my Spanish is about eighth grade level but because my story suddenly seems not mine. The story rolls out with a different attitude and accent and temperament. And what are all those English place names doing in here, I think, my eyes bugging out when I read all the names that seem more appropriate for San Francisco than Barcelona, the city of my Spanish publisher.

And there are aspects of every language that are impossible to translate. As a reader of translation, I know this, and our best hope is to believe the translator presented the intent if not the exact meaning.

But with my Spanish translations, I'm able to read and finish them, knowing that whatever I was trying to say in English, I said in Spanish, too.

However, the other languages are far away and above me. I have listened to folks speaking Czech, and I am clueless. It sounds pretty, I think. Dutch? Not so many of those speakers around here. But I was able to communicate via email with the Dutch translator, and she and I went back and forth over certain ideas and words. And Portuguese makes me think I'm listening to Spanish under water and I can't get to the surface.

When Intimate Beings came out in Portuguese, I was surprised because the story seemed to have gone on a diet. In English, it's almost 300 pages long. In this version, about 200. Hmmm, I thought. Very strange. The good news is that I have a friend who is fluent in Portuguese, and she told me that the translation, "Wasn't so bad."

Which meant, translated, the editors took a lot out.

But the good news is that Intimate Beings is about ready for its mass market debut, September 8th, in English, with all the words it's supposed to have! Please read more here. What you read is really what you will get.



marybelle said...

I'm perplexed by how they lost 100 pages in translation: from English to Portuguese. It must be satisfying though to know you are reaching a wider reading audience.


Michele L. said...

That is so cool to have your books translated into different languages! The covers are all so different but very pretty! I hope they portrayed the heroine like you mentioned in your story. :-)

Wow, to lose 100 pages in translation? Sounds like a weird mystery to me!