Discussion | Reading In A Different Language

As many of you may or may not know, I learn French in school and English isn’t my first language which means I have the pleasure of reading books in different languages.

We’ve recently been studying The Little Prince in French. Basically what we do is, we read the French version then we switch to the English translated version and I’m really enjoying it.

What is it that makes me enjoy a book in a language I can barely understand? Why does the translated version seem so faithful?

What elements of a story need to stay consistent from language to language to make it so faithful?

Well I’m about to tell you that:

1) The overall message/motto of the story

2) The author’s writing style

3) Accurate representation of the character

This post is going to be split into two parts to avoid mumble-jumble

Part One: I discuss how each of those elements in The Little Prince make it such a good translation

Part Two: I discuss what if my blog were translated into another language?


Reading The Little Prince in Two Different Languages

What makes it so good? let’s discuss

1) The message remains consistent

The Little Prince is basically an exploration into human morals and character. It’s about what we think is important in life and what is actually important in life.

I believe every story has a meaning and you take the meaning away and what do you get? nothing, it’s just a bunch of words on a page isn’t it? The meaning is like the skeleton, it holds everything together, it brings everything together which is why it NEEDS to be there.

2) The author’s writing style

Of course you can’t exactly replicate someone else’s writing style, translation’s complicated like that. But what you can do is try to get the gist of the writing in as much as possible. I mean if something is supposed to be serious and important in the story then you have to try and get that across.

The Little Prince is highly metaphorical and they’ve done a good job of acknowledging that.

You have to remain faithful

3) Consistent Characterization

Characters for me are one of the three most important elements of a story.  Again, the translation has to meaningfully represent the character. Whether it be Little Prince’s cuteness or Lizzie Bennett’s witty banter it has to remain the same for the story to be a successful, faithful translation.

I recently discovered Smartling, a translation software company. that basically translates web content into different languages for effective communication.

So hypothetically, if my blog were to be translated into another language what’s to remain consistent?

1) The Theme of my blog

I feel like this is really obvious but , it’s about books and my love for literature so that’s got to be there. Particularly with book reviews, the translation has to be able to accurately represent whether I liked a book or not.

2) My Style

I’m quite a chatty person on this blog so I’d want that to stay consistent but sometimes I write serious stuff too so that’s got to come across. Basically my voice has to stay consistent is what I’m saying

Translation is really amazing when you think about it. I mean I’d never be able to read The Little Prince properly if it wasn’t translated into English and what if I’m denying people access by having my blog in just one language?

So I now pose the question to you

If you were to read a book in another language what aspects would you want to stay consistent?