Wednesday, March 07, 2007

I have priorities, people

I have a new goal: before July 21, 2007, I want to finish reading all the Harry Potter books in French so that on that happy day when I pick up my English copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, I will have read the first six books in the series from cover to cover in Spanish, English, and French. I've already gotten through the Spanish and English, obviously. I have four and a half books to go in French, though. It should be fun.

I intend to read the French HP schoolbooks also. I'll read the Spanish if I can get my hands on a copy: so far, my attempts to get those cute, tiny, under-sixty-pages-long libros without paying an obscenely large sum of money have failed. The issues are that (1) they're hard to find and (2) paying about a dollar per page for them is not acceptable.

A random observation about literature in translation: the Spanish versions of Harry Potter usually go for the letter of the law, leaving most names of characters, places, spells, and magical artifacts intact, unless it is important to change a word or phrase because it was an anagram or something in English and that anagram or something is of immense importance. To give two examples, "the mirror of Erised" becomes "El espejo de Oesed" in Spanish instead of "El espejo de Erised" and the name Tom Marvolo Riddle becomes Tom Sorvolo Ryddle. Soy Lord Voldemort!

The French versions, on the other hand, go for the spirit of the law. To excess. They change nearly everything. That was okay for a while, but now my patience has been exhausted. (That is to say, it wasn't irritating when I knew less French than I do now.) About two of every three character names are changed for no discernible reason (and believe me, I've tried discerning). The above plus the rest of the changes leaves me wanting to hex the translator until he resembles a gelatinous slug. The French translator takes such an intemperate amount of creative license that the only possible explanation is that he has absconded with Rita Skeeter's Quick Quotes Quill. Seriously.

One amusing thing I should mention about the French translation is that Tom Marvolo Riddle becomes Tom Elvis Jedusor. Je suis Voldemort! That's right, the Dark Lord's middle name is Elvis.

Anyway, as you have no doubt assumed already, I prefer the Spanish translation to the French.

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