The idea of fiction being translated from language to language in fiction has always interested with me.
How different can words be in another language?
Does the core meaning of the work, change, shift, be altered differently? The English language is probably one of the most complex. Change something — even if it’s something small — can change the entire meaning of a sentence. A paragraph. A whole book, even. Take a Thesaurus for example. Type in the word “Story” into thesaurus.com. There are fifty-one synonyms for that word. Fifty-one! Think about it. That’s an incredible amount of words that could, potentially, mean the exact same thing.
But wait a second.
Do they all mean they’re the same thing? No. No, they don’t. Let’s take a couple of words that popped up in my Thesaurus search. Does “history” mean the same thing as a “story”, or does “biography” mean the same thing as “story”? They don’t. Not really. They can all be connected to each other in a way — because history can be a story and so can a biography, but essentially, they don’t mean the same thing. Not for the way a writer intends their work. Imagine how much a sentence could change if you swapped “story” for “biography”?
Now you’re wondering, aren’t you, how some of your favourite translation fiction is different from the actual source material.
Of course, it is not always possible to translate something directly from one language to another. Some words simply might not exist in one language, so you have to compromise. There are plenty of translating options out there. Google Translate. Smartling. And a plethora of other translating websites out there that might, or might not accurately translate something. While it goes without saying that a published work of fiction goes through rigours amounts of translating by actual people, how accurately is it for a novel to be translated? Is anything lost in these translations? Ideally you want the core messages, stories, and characters to come across in the manner that was intend by the author.
So . . . what books, fictional books, have been translated into English?
(Confession: I totally had to Google this one. Had NO IDEA that some of these were originally not written in English!) As it turns out — LOTS of them.