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Sunday, July 26, 2015

Weekend Rambling [#5]: Translated Books (aka When Blogging and School Collide)

Weekend Rambling is where I discuss/rant/ramble about random things, bookish or non-bookish alike. Everyone's welcome to share their thoughts!

Heya, everyone! How have you been? I hope you're all having a great day! So on my last discussion post a hundred years two months ago, we talked about replying to comments on our own blog. And hey, thanks to everyone who commented and shared their thoughts! But if you haven't checked out the post yet, it's never too late to join in the discussion. ^__^

Today, I'd like to talk about translated books. Now you're probably wondering about the aka thingy on the post title. Here's a little story about that: Last week in our Advanced Composition class, we were asked to do an essay about something that interests us. Of course, the first thing that came to mind was: books. What else, right? Duh. But it's a broad topic and what about books that I'd like to write? Then I remembered that I was planning to write a blog post about translated books ever since I came across this translation management platform Smartling. (More on that later.) Why not use a blog post idea for a school requirement? I'd have something for my essay while at the same time I'd finally start with that blog post. Two birds in one stone and all that yada yada.
I know, right?

Anyway, Smartling is a translation software platform that translates websites into different languages so that content can be efficiently delivered to the worldwide audience. Cool, right? Check out their translation software page for more info. :)

Of course, the piece that I actually submitted for class was more formal (and boring) than this.

So why is translating books important? Take a look at this list of popular translated books on Goodreads and you'd probably find some of your favorite and well-loved stories. Just imagine if these books were never translated in English, then only those who are fluent in French would have loved The Little Prince, Inkheart would have stayed German and Haruki Murakami's works would have never gotten out of Japan. The world would have been a hellish place.

Same with English books that are translated into other languages. Here in the Philippines, Filipino editions of popular YA literature are slowly but steadily emerging in the market. During my last visit to the bookstore, I've seen Tagalized versions of Looking for Alaska, Harry Potter, The Hunger Games and even Fifty Shades of Grey. (gasp!) I admit I haven't read any of these local versions, but it might be interesting to know how the translation went.
So sorry for the blurry picture. I was practicing my ninja moves when I took that photo. But you can make out the words "Filipino edition" on the right side, right? Right?!

Filipino readers have mixed opinions about translated books. Some say that books do not need to be translated into Filipino because we understand English just as well, and that translation diminishes the essence of the story. Sometimes the translation becomes too literal or shallow that metaphors are often lost and the author's intent is changed. But I think this is understandable because there are lots of English words that have no direct translation to Filipino and vice versa. The challenge now lies to the translator.

But some readers react positively to this. What better way to reach more audience than making books available in their native language? Through language translation, more readers gain access and actually understand those stories. So you don't understand English well? Don't despair, here's a Filipino edition of that book you've been eyeing. Bam! And this is also a good way to teach us our native language. In a country like the Philippines wherein English is one of the official languages, a lot of people nowadays (especially the young ones) are not that fluent in Filipino. Tagalized versions could actually help us learn more about our own language. So what if the translation isn't perfect? I'm pretty sure the essence is still there and literature's aim to entertain is still achieved. And really, you gotta admire the work that the translators put into these books. Saying it's challenging is an understatement.

There are challenges in translating books, but if we think about it, it's a very important thing.  Language translation allows literature to be shared with the world. Imagine if books stayed in their original language, we wouldn't have discovered that there are beautiful stories out there, just waiting to be made available to more readers.

* Faye @ The Social Potato also gave her two cents on why she thinks translated books are a good thing. Watch her video discussion!
* And I found this cool infographic of 50 of the most translated books in the world. Check it out!

What do you think about today's topic? What are your thoughts about translated books? Especially for those who live in countries wherein English is not the first language, do you prefer reading books in English or do you like to read them more in your native language? Do share your opinions below!

If you liked this post, please consider hitting the share buttons below. Sharing is caring! Have a great week ahead! ^__^
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Julie @ Books and Insomnia

Julie is a Filipina blogger who pretends she has insomnia so she can stay up late reading. When she's not buried in books, she can be found watching anime, drinking chocolate-flavored instant coffee, lurking on the internet, daydreaming and talking about herself in third person. She loves purple and anything sweet!

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