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Narnia In Translation  

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Courtenay
(@courtenay)
NarniaWeb Junkie

As we've had a few conversations in other threads about translations of the Narnia books into other languages — especially since welcoming Dimitris, who first read them in Greek! — I thought this might be a good topic for a new discussion in its own right.

I haven't been able to find out exactly how many different languages the Chronicles of Narnia have been translated into from English — the Marion E. Wade Center says "at least 47" and a post on The Lion's Call website says 46. In both cases, that's presumably referring to the number of translations of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, which has been done the most — not all of the other books have been translated into all those languages. I also can't find a list anywhere of what those 46 or 47 (or more) languages actually are! But that shows just how popular these books are all over the world.

So... how many people here have read some or all of the Narnia books in translation (either in your native language, or another language you've learned)? How do you think the translations compare to the originals in English? Are there any parts of the books that were obviously hard to translate and don't work as well in the new language, maybe having to be changed a bit because of that? Are there parts that did translate particularly well and maybe even gain a little extra depth in another language?

Or, if you haven't read the Chronicles in another language yet, is there a language you'd especially like to read them in some day?

(And on a non-linguistic note, it'd also be very interesting to find out which translations have had a different illustrator and how they compare to the original artwork by Pauline Baynes in the English editions. I really enjoyed seeing Dimitris's photos of the original covers of the Greek editions in this discussion here.)

I've got some thoughts I'd like to contribute as well, but would love to hear from others first, so away we go! :)

"Now you are a lioness," said Aslan. "And now all Narnia will be renewed."
(Prince Caspian)

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Posted : April 3, 2020 1:25 am
Dimitris liked
Wanderer Between Worlds
(@wanderer)
NarniaWeb Nut

Hello NarniaWeb!

Yesterday, I found this extremely interesting website: 

https://web.archive.org/web/20110303135111/http://inklingsfocus.com/translation_index.html

This Web Archive page details all of the forty-seven language translations and even lists pictures of the covers, some of which have art that I’ve never seen before! :D It also lists the original translators and cover artists. The list was compiled by Glen H. Goodknight.

The conversation on the other thread got me thinking, so I did some translation of the titles before I found Glen H. Goodknight’s website. I used Google Translate, along with limited knowledge of French and Spanish. The translation of the titles are mostly literal because I think that perhaps it showcases the uniqueness of the translations the best. They are listed in publication order although many of the series were published in chronological order in other countries. Please correct me if any of these translations are wrong; I am by no means a linguist! :)

Afrikaans (This one was incomplete on Glen H. Goodknight’s website page)
Die Leeu, Die Heks en Die Klerekas = The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
Prins Kaspian = Prince Caspian
Drie Vaart van Die Dagbreker = The Cruise of The Breakwater (Note:
“Dagbreker” means “daybreaker” as well)
Die Silwer Stoel = The Silver Chair
Die perd en Sy Seun = The Horse and His Son (Note: “seun” can also mean “boy”)
Die Towenaar se Nefie = The Wizard’s Nephew
Die Laaste Geveg = The Last Battle
*Source: Image Results on Google

Chinese
狮子,女巫和魔衣柜 = The Lion, Witch and Magic Wardrobe
凯斯宾王子 = Prince Caspian
黎明踏浪号 = Dawn Treader
银椅 = Silver Chair
能言马与男孩 = Can Speak Horses and Boys (This is what Google said; it did not make sense, so I may have made a mistake when putting it into the translator)
魔法师的外甥 = Wizard’s Nephew
最后一战 = Last Battle
*Source: https://www.bibleinmylanguage.com/chron ... -language/

French
Le Lion, la Sorcière Blanche et l’Armoire Magique = The Lion, the White Witch, and the Magic Wardrobe
Le Prince Caspian = Prince Capsian
L’Odyssée du Passeur d’Aurore = The Dawn Treader Odyssey (Note: by itself,
“passeur” means “ferryman”)
Le Fauteuil d’argent = The Silver Chair
Le Cheval et son écuyer = The Horse and His Squire
Le Neveu du magicien = The Magician’s Nephew
La Dernière Bataille = The Last Battle
*Source: Amazon

German
Der Kӧnig von Narnia = The King of Narnia
Prinz Kaspian von Narnia = Prince Caspian of Narnia
Die Reise auf der Morgenröte = The Journey on the Dawn
Der Silberne Sessel = The Silver Armchair
Der Ritt nach Narnia = The Ride to Narnia
Das Wunder von Narnia = The Miracle of Narnia
Der Letzte Kampf = The Last Fight
*Source: Amazon
**In particular, I find the German translations extremely interesting because it seems like more of a concept/summary rather than a literal translation.

Spanish
El León, la Bruja, y el Ropero = The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
El Príncipe Caspian = Prince Caspian
La Travesía del Viajero del Alba = The Journey of the Dawn Treader (Note: In
Spanish, “viajero” literally means “traveler”)
La Silla de Plata = The Silver Chair
El Caballo y el Muchacho = The Horse and the Boy
El Sobrino Del Mago = The Magician’s Nephew
La Última Batalla = The Last Battle
*Source: Amazon

One of the most interesting titles that I have found is the Voyage of the Dawn Treader Japanese Translation: 朝びらき丸東の海へ, which Google translates literally to mean “To the Morning East of the Sea.”
*Source: Glen H. Goodknight’s website

I’ve previously taken classes in Spanish and am currently trying to learn French, so I would like to read a Spanish or French translation of the Chronicles in the future. ;)

This post was modified 2 months ago 2 times by Wanderer Between Worlds

"I am,” said Aslan. "But there I have another name. You must learn to know me by that name. This was the very reason why you were brought to Narnia, that by knowing me here for a little, you may know me better there.”

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Posted : April 3, 2020 5:10 am
Col Klink
(@col-klink)
NarniaWeb Nut

I wonder what the translators do with expressions like, "Great Scott!" Do they replace them with equivalent expressions in their own languages or do they translate them literally? And I wonder how Lewis' authorial voice comes through? Does it come across as more formal in some of the translations than it does in the original language, where it's pretty relaxed?

Anyway, this doesn't have anything to do with real, serious translations, but, for a laugh, I used Google Translate to put the books' titles into Hawaiian and then back into English. Here's what they were.

The Lion, the Wife and the Swan

Prince Caspian

The Bank of the Treasury

Kauaka and his Son

The Living Room

Son of the City

The Last Fight

For better or worse-for who knows what may unfold from a chrysalis?-hope was left behind.
-The God Beneath the Sea by Leon Garfield & Edward Blishen

ReplyQuote
Posted : April 3, 2020 6:32 am
Dimitris
(@dimitris)
NarniaWeb Regular

As I already said, the Greek titles are 100% accurate translations from the original. The only exception is the VDT. The Greek (translated into English) title is: "The Dawn Traveler".

Or, if you haven't read the Chronicles in another language yet, is there a language you'd especially like to read them in some day?

Yes there is. In English! :D

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Posted : April 3, 2020 10:04 am
Wunderkind_Lucy
(@wunderkind_lucy)
Magnet for All Kinds of Deeper Wunderment Hospitality Committee

I'd like to read the Korean translation. :p My sister has an all-in-one copy, and I'm hoping to get the boxed set.

As I already said, the Greek titles are 100% accurate translations from the original. The only exception is the VDT. The Greek (translated into English) title is: "The Dawn Traveler".

The same is true for the Korean titles. I'm not quite sure how to explain how "Treader" is translated. Google Translate uses "outgoing" (for that specific word) but the term is used for the time when soldiers leave for battle. Google Translate and Naver dictionary (an online dictionary used in Korea) both translate the whole title as "The Voyage of the Dawn Treader" although the literal order would be more like "(The) Dawn Treader's Voyage." Definite and indefinite articles aren't used in Korean, hence having the in parentheses.

사자, 마녀, 그리고 옷장 (Sa-ja, ma-nyeo, geu-ri-go ot-jang) - (The) Lion, (the) Witch, and (the) Wardrobe
캐스피언 왕자 (Kae-seu-pi-ahn wang-ja) - Prince Caspian
새벽 출정호의 항해 (Sae-byeok chool-jeong-ho-eui hang-hae) - (The) Dawn Treader's Voyage
은의자 (Eun ui-ja) - Silver Chair
말과 소년 (Mal gwa so-nyeon) - (The) Horse and (the) Boy
마법사의 조카 (Ma-beop-sa-ui jo-ka) - Magician's Nephew
마지막 전투 (Ma-ji-mak jeon-tu) - Last Battle

I wonder what the translators do with expressions like, "Great Scott!" Do they replace them with equivalent expressions in their own languages or do they translate them literally?

I'm going to have to look into that! I'm quite curious!

~Wunder


Resource List | Textures | Bases
WC: 4

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Posted : April 3, 2020 12:50 pm
Dimitris
(@dimitris)
NarniaWeb Regular

I wonder what the translators do with expressions like, "Great Scott!" Do they replace them with equivalent expressions in their own languages or do they translate them literally?

Almost certainly the first. Can you give me an example from the books? (book/chapter).
I want to check out the greek translation.

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Posted : April 3, 2020 11:50 pm
Col Klink
(@col-klink)
NarniaWeb Nut

Can you give me an example from the books?

Well, Peter's first line in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is "we've fallen on our feet." This means the characters might have ended up in a bad situation but ended up in a good or at least neutral one instead. They've landed on their feet as opposed to landing on their heads or their behinds. I don't know if other languages have this idiom, though maybe they do.

There are also some of Frank's lines in The Magician's Nephew, like "strike me pink" or "cor." (As in "cor blimey" as in "God blind me.") And Peter says, "I'm jiggered" (shocked) in Prince Caspian.

For better or worse-for who knows what may unfold from a chrysalis?-hope was left behind.
-The God Beneath the Sea by Leon Garfield & Edward Blishen

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Posted : April 4, 2020 3:45 am
Dimitris
(@dimitris)
NarniaWeb Regular

I checked these phrases. It's like I said. Greek translators used 100% Greek-slang corresponding phrases. Ιt's not possible to be translated in English literally.

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Posted : April 5, 2020 5:26 am
Varnafinde
(@varna)
Princess of the Noldor and Royal Overseer of the Talk About Narnia forum Moderator

So... how many people here have read some or all of the Narnia books in translation (either in your native language, or another language you've learned)? How do you think the translations compare to the originals in English? Are there any parts of the books that were obviously hard to translate and don't work as well in the new language, maybe having to be changed a bit because of that? Are there parts that did translate particularly well and maybe even gain a little extra depth in another language?

Or, if you haven't read the Chronicles in another language yet, is there a language you'd especially like to read them in some day?

My native language is Norwegian, and I read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe in Norwegian when I was 8 (in 1963) - but that was the only title which had been translated yet. The publishers didn't go on with the whole series.

About fifteen years later, in the late 1970's, another publisher took over and did all the books, and I don't think they have been out of print since then. (By that time I had read them all in English.) They have been reissued several times with different covers, at least once with Pauline Baynes' covers (from the Puffin edition).

I claim that there is a mistake in the translation of a sentence on the last page of The Last Battle. Lewis uses "Shadowlands" as a term of the world we live in now, before going to Aslan's Country. The Norwegian translator uses it as a term of what we go to after the world we live in now. Not the same thing at all.

A fascinating fact is that he achieves that change mostly by changing the punctuation of the sentence ...

In Sweden, Norway's next-door neighbour, all the Chronicles had been translated in the 1950s. Norwegian and Swedish (and Danish) are very close languages, might almost count as dialects rather than separate languages. So if only I had found a Swedish book, I would have been able to read it and enjoy the whole set, and not have to wait until 1976 when I bought the books in England. But I never went to a Swedish bookshop as a child.

I got them later and have read the Chronicles in Swedish, too. (I've also bought them in French and started reading them - that's a project I should finish some time, to brush up my French.) Danish looks even more close to Norwegian than Swedish does, so they should be easy to read - but I haven't got any of them.

I'll be back with a post with all the titles in the three Scandinavian languages (or dialects ;) ), and a back-translation of them.
I'll only give you one right away: The Magician's Nephew.

Swedish: Min morbror trollkarlen (My uncle the magician)
Danish: Troldmandens nevø (The magician's nephew)

Both very close to the English.

Norwegian, on the other hand, chose a completely different direction:
Drømmen om Narnia (The dream about Narnia).


(avi artwork by Henning Janssen)

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Posted : April 7, 2020 4:53 am
Justin of Archenland
(@justin-of-archenland)
NarniaWeb Regular

I first started reading Narnia when I was 8 years old, in my native language: Dutch.
Must say that I left them soon after I was able to read the English versions. I find English to be a much richer language than Dutch and a lot of the phrases and jokes make a lot more sense when you read them in the original writings.
Nonetheless, I'm glad to have had these translations and will definitely get them for my kids if they show any interest in literature.

The titles and their literal translations to English:

Het betoverde land achter de kleerkast (The Magical land behind the wardrobe
Prins Caspian
De reis van het drakenschip (The Voyage/Journey of the Dragon Ship)
De zilveren stoel (The Silver Chair)
Het paard en de jongen (The Horse and the Boy)
Het neefje van de tovenaar (The nephew of the magician/wizard)
Het laatste gevecht (The Last Fight)

Also, it seems like they got some special covers for this Dutch series, for example:

https://christelijkeromans.nl/boek/het- ... -tovenaar/

“Child," said the Voice, "I am telling you your story, not hers. I tell no one any story but his own.”
― C.S. Lewis, The Horse and His Boy

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Posted : April 9, 2020 10:34 pm
Col Klink
(@col-klink)
NarniaWeb Nut

It's odd that they changed the title, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Not that Het betoverde land achter de kleerkast is a bad title at all. But what was wrong with a literal translation of the English title?

And I don't get changing the Dawn Treader to Dragon Ship. I mean I know that the English word, treader, is kind of unpoetic. But they could have changed it to Dawn Walker (hmm, that actually sounds like a woman's name ;)) ) or something. The ship's name is supposed to indicate where its sailing. The Dragon Ship doesn't really tell us anything important.

For better or worse-for who knows what may unfold from a chrysalis?-hope was left behind.
-The God Beneath the Sea by Leon Garfield & Edward Blishen

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Posted : April 10, 2020 2:58 am
Justin of Archenland
(@justin-of-archenland)
NarniaWeb Regular

It's odd that they changed the title, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Not that Het betoverde land achter de kleerkast is a bad title at all. But what was wrong with a literal translation of the English title?

Very true. My initial thought was that they probably changed it to appeal more to the children here. Lion, Witch and Wardrobe is probably a tad too vague to interest the broadest range of readers. Speaking of magical lands is generally more inviting. I don't mind the change though, since to me the Wardrobe is a good thing to know up front. Aslan and Jadis will become very important and unforgettable anyway. I like the slight focus on the old closet.

And I don't get changing the Dawn Treader to Dragon Ship. I mean I know that the English word, treader, is kind of unpoetic. But they could have changed it to Dawn Walker (hmm, that actually sounds like a woman's name ;)) ) or something. The ship's name is supposed to indicate where its sailing. The Dragon Ship doesn't really tell us anything important.

When it comes to Treader, it's quite simple. Dutch has no official translation for the word, so they had to work around it.
Also Dawn brings up very adult words in Dutch. I've tried to find a decent translation for Dawn Treader for the last ten minutes now, but there is not a single one I would put on a book as its title. It all becomes too long and squished together.

I agree it leaves out too much of what the story is actually about, but I do believe it's the best our little language can afford for a literal translation :p

“Child," said the Voice, "I am telling you your story, not hers. I tell no one any story but his own.”
― C.S. Lewis, The Horse and His Boy

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Posted : April 10, 2020 6:40 am
Perla
(@perla)
NarniaWeb Newbie

*sweep up the dust a bit* Giggle  

Hi eveyone

I thought that it may be interesting to share some characters’ names translated into different languages. Feel free to tell how they are in other languages you know/you read.

Like for example my name, “Perla(pearl)” which is the name we have in spanish for “Jewel”

So I’ll share with you some other names we have in the spanish books! (bear in mind that in spanish you pronounce exactly what you read)

 

Rumblebuffin (LWW) — Torpón (clumsy)

Wimbleweather (PC) – Turbión (Downpour)

Trufflehunter (PC) – Buscatrufas

Glenstorm (PC) — Borrasca de las Cañadas

Destrier (PC) — Batallador (fighting/fighter)

Pattertwig(PC) — Piesligeros (Pies=feet / Ligeros=light)

Puddleglum (SC) — Charcosombrío (Charco=puddle / sombrío=dark or someone who is melancholic and pessimist)

Strawberry — Fresón (big strawberry¿)

Fledge (MN) — Alado (winged)

Shift (LB) — Triquiñuela (childish way to say trick)

 

I didn't know some of the names in english so i hope i didn't mess them up   Straight face  

If you ever wonder how we have adapted "x" quote or dialogue in spanish let me know!

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Posted : July 29, 2020 5:35 pm
coracle
(@coracle)
NarniaWeb's Auntie Moderator
Posted by: @col-klink

It's odd that they changed the title, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Not that Het betoverde land achter de kleerkast is a bad title at all. But what was wrong with a literal translation of the English title?

 

 I don't like the title much - why have a total spoiler on the cover of the book? The reader deserves to get an amazing surprise!

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Posted : July 29, 2020 7:15 pm
Reepi
(@reepi)
NarniaWeb Nut
Posted by: @wanderer

German
Der Kӧnig von Narnia = The King of Narnia
Prinz Kaspian von Narnia = Prince Caspian of Narnia
Die Reise auf der Morgenröte = The Journey on the Dawn
Der Silberne Sessel = The Silver Armchair
Der Ritt nach Narnia = The Ride to Narnia
Das Wunder von Narnia = The Miracle of Narnia
Der Letzte Kampf = The Last Fight
*Source: Amazon
**In particular, I find the German translations extremely interesting because it seems like more of a concept/summary rather than a literal translation.

 

I can comment a little on this since I've had and read some old German editions before. I suppose they wanted to add the word Narnia to the title to make it more obvious they are a series?

SC is in some versions also translated as "The door to Narnia", which again ties back to that.

 

http://img843.imageshack.us/img843/9971/ymwz.jpg

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Posted : July 30, 2020 5:29 am
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