As many of you probably know by now I speak and read both English and Swedish fluently. I’ve always spoken Swedish fluently and understood English fluently but didn’t start speaking English regularly until I was in my teens, the same goes for reading in English. What does this have to do with Harry Potter? Well, one might think that I would be able to comment on the translation of the books into Swedish. I can’t. I’ve only read one short passage out of a Harry Potter book in Swedish and that was for a translation module in grad school.
Anymore I actively avoid reading books that are originally published in English in Swedish translation. Translation is great. It is an art in itself. But things can change in translation. There is a reason why we have the expression “lost in translation”. I fully agree with Laura Watkinson in the interview I posted on June 27th, words can have many meanings and unless you know what the author intended then translation can be tricky. My classmates and I could have pitched battles regarding our interpretations of words and translations. I occasionally take on some translation work. It. Is. Hard.
However, despite knowing that it is hard, poor translations annoy the living daylights out of me. Often when watching American tv shows the character will say one thing, and the translation will be the opposite. And this is my fear about reading the translated Harry Potter books. I love these books so very much. What if the translator has done a poor job?! (Absolutely not saying they have. I’ve read two pages and they were fine, I have no rational basis for my fear…but you know ). One day maybe I will be brave enough