Translating books is a solitary mission. You don’t really socialise while dashing away at the keyboard (except Facebook), and your closest companion is (or at least should be) the imminent Deadline. Yet a translator is hardly ever a mute creature. No, not in the least. We sigh. We groan. We mumble, growl, gasp and giggle. We even yell, sometimes.
It is usually books we communicate to. I wish I could do the same with their authors.
And here’s why.
Dear Sarah Maas!
Before I started working on your books, I had thought that a kiss was a kiss. Of course I knew that you can rate them in terms of length, intensity, taste and consequences, but I didn’t know that you could dedicate a few paragraphs of a book to a single one. Nor did I know that one can disguise a sexual intercourse with so many metaphors that a reader may not figure out that it is sex he is actually reading about.
But a translator is an adaptable creature. I got used to all that, which wasn’t a particularly painful process since I simply like your stories. Especially those that happen in the winter.
And one more thing. I know it is kind of too late for that, but I really wish you wouldn’t make an innocent sentence in volume one and then need EXACTLY THE SAME one in volume five. A translator, despite all his merits, does not see the future. Just saying.
Dear Peter Brett!
My problem is that I have a very bad memory for names, especially those long, complex and foreign looking ones. Working with your cycle, as much fun as it was, also made me think a lot. Check. Recheck. Double-check. And still I wasn’t sure. ‘Who is this Askukishu’Kali’whateverish? Is it the same dude that did that horrible thing to Mehikoshu’Bangbang?’
I was seriously glad for the purge in part four of the cycle, even though you managed to kill off a few of my favourite characters. Never mind. I am looking forward to working on „The Core”.
Working? I don’t think this verb reflects the truth. I already know how thick the book is. I have seen it. Getting married to it for a while would be a much more appropriate term. Still, I like the prospect. Hell, yeah.
Dear Patrick O’Brian
You were the first author I had the privilege and honour to translate into Polish. And again translating is a rather poor term for it. Working on Aubrey/Maturin series was like wandering in the great mental palace of a great storyteller. I am never going to forget all the puns you put me through, all the cultural references you made me check, all the inexplicable moments you wanted me to visualise and later describe, all the moments of self pity when I was sorry for ever calling myself educated.
Still, I didn’t strike the colours. I fought on. I learned. I checked. I cursed and checked again. Then I forgot what I had checked and did it one more time. Why bloody not.
And those were pre-Internet times.
I wish you were still there so that I could tell you how awesome it had been. There are no writers like you anymore and never will be.
And a final comment (if you have been reading carefully). To strike the colours means to lower the flag of a warship, in other words to surrender. A thing a translator is never allowed to do.
Dear Eve Ainsworth!
I haven’t got a problem with the language you use. It is the subjects of your books that weigh heavily on my wretched soul. Although your books are usually shorter than others, it still takes me a lot of time to translate them. You tend to use simple words to describe complex problems of today’s youth. As a parent, a teacher and a relatively young person I find your descriptions painfully striking. They make me think, observe and want to discuss. They change me.
Hell, what did I expect? It is books I work with. Books! They change people!
OK, that’s it. I have said everything. Too much, maybe. And there is a reason why only four authors have been mentioned. A very important one, believe me.
I am coming back to groaning, mumbling and sighing.
And, ladies and gentleman, if you have enjoyed my sense of humour, I would like to invite you to my language classes.
Tueasay: 17:00 Norwegian A1, 18:30 Norwegian A2
Wednesdays 17:00 English Intermediate class, 18:30 English conversation class
Fridays: 17:00 English conversation class, 18:30 English role playing session (yes, you have read that correctly )
And all the classes are held at Słowackiego 13, right next to the lair of Druga Era.