Random Literature Thread

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linguoboy
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Re: Random Literature Thread

Postby linguoboy » 2017-07-24, 21:25

Yasna wrote:When you buy a book in Spanish that was originally written in another Romance language, can you count on it having been directly translated from the original language? Or are some translations done via a third language, probably English?

Depends on the Romance language? I can 100% guarantee you that no one is translating books originally published in Catalan into Spanish via English. But I wouldn't be absolutely certain this is always the case with French, particularly with a Canadian author.
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Re: Random Literature Thread

Postby Yasna » 2017-08-09, 5:50

Verschollenes Koestler-Original gefunden

A couple years ago the original German manuscript for Darkness at Noon by Arthur Koestler was found in the Zentralbibliothek Zürich. This is significant because all published editions of the novel are based on the English translation. Even German editions, which are translations from English.
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Re: Random Literature Thread

Postby Luís » 2017-08-15, 14:20

Yasna wrote:When you buy a book in Spanish that was originally written in another Romance language, can you count on it having been directly translated from the original language? Or are some translations done via a third language, probably English?


There's no shortage of translators working with those language pairs, so I don't really think it's a common thing to resort to English.

Portugal is a small market (compared to Spain and other Spanish-speaking regions) and virtually all books are translated from the original language unless they're written in a very exotic language, so I don't expect it to be much different when it comes to Spanish.

I've come across a few books that had been translated via a third language, but interestingly enough it was French, not English. I'm not sure if that was intentional or not, but at least you stay inside the same language subfamily.

Anyway, you can usually find that information in the first pages of the book (together with the name of the translator).
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Re: Random Literature Thread

Postby linguoboy » 2017-08-15, 15:48

Luís wrote:I've come across a few books that had been translated via a third language, but interestingly enough it was French, not English. I'm not sure if that was intentional or not, but at least you stay inside the same language subfamily.

I think it's a question of availability. Over the years I've come across lots of authors whose works are more available in French than in English. I think state subsidies mean that more works are translated into French. (Proportionately, English-speakers read much fewer works in translation than pretty much everyone in Europe.) It's also a very different market with different international dimensions.

IME, if an English-language work is a translation of a translation, the intermediate language is almost always French.
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Re: Random Literature Thread

Postby Yasna » 2017-08-23, 15:54

Some interesting thoughts on what literary fiction is, and on the relatability of books.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wx0AsDLRBO4
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Re: Random Literature Thread

Postby Yasna » 2017-08-25, 23:04

I just learned a quick and easy way to get a first approximation of whether a history book is worth reading. Check the bibliography to see whether there are references in the language(s) of the region which is dealt with. I will be applying this method extensively.
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Re: Random Literature Thread

Postby linguoboy » 2017-08-26, 1:25

Yasna wrote:I just learned a quick and easy way to get a first approximation of whether a history book is worth reading. Check the bibliography to see whether there are references in the language(s) of the region which is dealt with. I will be applying this method extensively.

That works well if the bibliography is comprehensive, but some authors will give only a selected bibliography with an eye to what books will be most useful to the majority of their audience. There's not much point to listing, say, two dozen titles in Georgian in a book published for the US mass market.
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Re: Random Literature Thread

Postby Osias » 2017-08-26, 22:08

I think he means titles marketed for USA mass market aren't worth reading.
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Re: Random Literature Thread

Postby Luís » 2017-09-03, 14:33

I'm looking for a good book on the history of Imperial Japan. Any ideas?
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Re: Random Literature Thread

Postby vijayjohn » 2017-09-14, 4:51

Practicing 48 quatrains of poetry is so hard, especially when you have year-round allergies and you're actually trying to learn 141 quatrains in all. Not to mention that even the first part of the whole poem is 68 quatrains. :doggy:

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Re: Random Literature Thread

Postby Yasna » 2017-09-26, 16:06

Yesterday I briefly met Orhan Pamuk at an event for his new book The Red-Haired Woman (Kırmızı Saçlı Kadın). A very interesting man with a great sense of humor. I could have listened to him speak about literature and life for hours.

The girl I sat next to at the event turned out to be a Malayali polyglot who speaks Malayalam, Kannada, Tamil, Hindi, English, and is learning German. We hit it off and got dinner and drinks together after the event.
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Re: Random Literature Thread

Postby vijayjohn » 2017-09-27, 3:24

Yasna wrote:a Malayali polyglot who speaks Malayalam, Kannada, Tamil, Hindi, English, and is learning German.

That's pretty common among middle-class Malayalees. A lot of Malayalees know the languages spoken in the two neighboring states (though what's most common IME is to be the most familiar with whichever language is spoken closest to your hometown) and learn Hindi, English, and a widely spoken European language (IME usually French, German, or possibly (not very likely) Russian) at school. Hindi and English are, of course, required subjects at school and have both become increasingly popular language choices in recent years but with Hindi still paling in comparison to English. Some people get to learn another European language as well. I may be wrong, but I think my uncle got to do this with French. Even if he did, though, I am pretty sure he doesn't speak any French now.

How well these people actually speak any of these languages (including Malayalam and English) is more variable, although it's certainly possible that this particular lady really does speak all of those languages.

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Re: Random Literature Thread

Postby linguoboy » 2017-10-02, 1:37

So do the Scandos have any opinions about Lina Wolff? Today I saw an English translation of Bret Easton Ellis och de andra hundarna and I was intrigued but not sufficiently to pay $15 without getting some critical feedback first.
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Re: Random Literature Thread

Postby Yasna » 2017-10-05, 21:22

So this year's Nobel Prize goes to Kazuo Ishiguro. I've read Never Let Me Go, which was superbly written but didn't really pull me in plot-wise. I guess I'll have to read The Remains of the Day, which seems to be viewed as his masterpiece. Any other opinions on Ishiguro?
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Re: Random Literature Thread

Postby Luís » 2017-10-08, 12:42

Luís wrote:I'm looking for a good book on the history of Imperial Japan. Any ideas?


I ended up buying this book.
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Re: Random Literature Thread

Postby Lur » 2017-11-09, 11:39

I'm trying to go back to reading prose so commenting on this subforum might help motivate me.

(Although a lot of what I read is comics also...)
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Re: Random Literature Thread

Postby vijayjohn » 2017-11-30, 8:33

Tonight, somehow, I got the idea into my head of trying to actually read all my books. :para:

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Re: Random Literature Thread

Postby linguoboy » 2018-03-02, 15:33

One of the conceits of Umberto Eco's novel Il nome della rosa (The name of the rose) is that it was translated into Italian from a French translation of a Latin manuscript. In the preface elabourating this conceit, the ostensible translator tells us:
Finally, was I to retain in Latin the passages that Abbé Vallet himself did not feel it opportune to translate, perhaps to preserve the ambience of the period? There were no particular reasons to do so, except a perhaps misplaced sense of fidelity to my source. ... I have eliminated excesses, but I have retained a certain amount. And I fear that I have imitated those bad novelists who, introducing a French character, make him exclaim “Parbleu!” and “La femme, ah! la femme!”

Is there a name for this trope? Because I could definitely use one. Eco wrote that paragraph nearly 40 years ago, yet this is still a staple of mediocre novelists. (It's telling that in this passage Eco is lampshading the use of it in his own work, i.e. calling attention to it as something intrusive in order get the reader to forgive him for doing it anyway.)

If it makes some sort of sense when the character is actually an imperfect speaker of the dominant language in the setting, it makes even less when the phrases are from the dominant language itself (when this happens to be different from the original language of the novel itself). Lee does this again and again in Pachinko and it annoys me. Her main characters are Koreans in Japan, some of whom never learn to speak Japanese or speak it imperfectly at best. So it makes sense at times to interject some Japanese phrases, which will presumably be as unfamiliar to the average reader as they are to these characters.

But other times it makes no sense at all. I just read a scene where a Japanese policeman introduces himself to one of the main characters by saying "Hajimemashite, Totoyama desu." This makes no sense in context. The character he's speaking to has been living in Japan for decades and is fluent in Japanese. The entire conversation is presumably taking place in Japanese (since there's no reason at all to assume that the policeman knows any Korean). All this tells me is that Lee is capable of doing what all the rest of us are and looking up how to introduce oneself in a Japanese phrasebook. (And even then she gets it wrong sometimes; at another point, a character introduces themself by saying "I'm [name] desu", effectively saying "I am" twice.)

Am I alone in this peeve or does it annoy some of y'all too?
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Re: Random Literature Thread

Postby Naava » 2018-03-02, 16:02

linguoboy wrote:Am I alone in this peeve or does it annoy some of y'all too?

That reminded me of this.

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Re: Random Literature Thread

Postby Dormouse559 » 2018-03-02, 16:24

linguoboy wrote:Am I alone in this peeve or does it annoy some of y'all too?
No, you're not. A subtler version is when a character has a stereotypical non-native accent but is presumably speaking the language that accent comes from, like, for example, Lumiere in "Beauty and the Beast". I first noticed this was a thing at a stage version of "The Three Musketeers" where a character disguises her voice by adopting a French accent, but of course, the story takes place in France, and she's French, and she's presumably speaking French.
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