Posts Tagged ‘Germany’

Welcome! I’m back! I haven’t updated this feature for a week or so as nothing has happened!

What I am currently reading:

One Hundred Years of Solitude” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (It’s not very exciting so far)

Harry Potter und der Stein der Weisen” by JK Rowling – the German language version of “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” (I know the story really well but reading it in German is more challenging, especially when it’s twice the size!)

Bookish blast from the past:

My Dad was sorting through some of his books the other day and, among all the architecture and cookery books, he found this book which I was given by my German exchanged partner when I was at secondary school! I had totally forgotten about it and it’s been hiding with my parents’ books all this time! It’s basically a book about the town of Krefeld in Germany where my exchange partner lived and flicking through it brought back memories of the week I spent there as a teenager!

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Other bookish things:

1) I’m watching the Harry Potter films, and I’ve finally got around to watching the rest of “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix”!

2) I went into Waterstones bookshop yesterday but didn’t buy any books – I don’t think I was in the mood for books! I did however have a good nosy around the stationary section and came across a tiny little journal called “One Word Day” which has pages with a space to a write one word to describe each day!

“One Word A Day” found on Waterstones.com (image via Amazon)

I didn’t buy it, but it inspired me to create a new blogging challenge based on this idea and which I will be commencing on Tuesday 1st September!

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I love languages! This is the second part of my posts about my relationship with languages.

University

As i mentioned in my previous post, i studied English Literature at university, so i know a lot about my native language already.

I did a module on TESOL (teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) and the first thing the tutor did was speak to us in one of her foreign languages, in this case it was Indonesian. I can’t remember anything she said, mainly because i had a mad panic at being addressed in a completely unfamiliar language! A good example of how people feel when they first learn a foreign language!

Arabic

I chose to study Arabic as an extra-curricular activity whilst at university, and i studied it for a semester because i wanted to learn something new. Arabic is a totally different language: not only is it from a different language family, it is read from right-to-left (instead of left-to-right like English, German and so on), letters of the alphabet change when you write them down in certain ways, and it is a cursive language. I got totally confused at times while studying Arabic! It is one of the hardest languages to learn because it has a different alphabet, which i spent hours trying to learn! I made reasonable progress with Arabic, although when the final exam came i completely stuffed it up and subsequently failed the class! Oops! To be fair, it was only a recreational class and not part of my degree, so it didn’t take priority when i had important essay deadlines and a dissertation due around the time of the final exam!

My Arabic skills consist of being able to say a few greetings and replies, and the odd word, but i can’t read Arabic and i have forgotten the letters of the alphabet, except for “al” which basically means “the”. I don’t have  much to show for that class! I do still have the Arabic learning CD set though, so i could attempt to learn it again!

Outside Academica/ In the real world!

I have had the opportunity to visit other countries and learn their languages, mainly through holidays. Mainly i know the Scandinavian languages, having visited a few of those countries.

Swedish

As my family has friends in Sweden and we’ve been on family holidays over there a few times, i learned words and phrases to make our trips more interesting. I know greetings and simple touristy phrases, and i know lots of random words! My food vocabulary is my strongest skill in Swedish, as i love Swedish food! I can pick out words from sentences and make a guess at what it means!

I also had the opportunity at university to study abroad and Sweden was my country of choice, but in the end i decided i would rather stay in England for the rest of my degree because i loved my university city, York, too much! Actually, i see now that i was very stupid to pass up such an opportunity! Oops!

Finnish

Finnish is another difficult language which is from a different language family to the other Scandic languages. It is fascinating though! I went on a family holiday to Finland as a teenager and i learned a few simple phrases and words in Finnish. I can pick out the odd word, but sentences are a bit too difficult to understand! It is one of the more difficult languages to learn, especially with the sentence structure and so on.

I did actually do an essay on the Finnish language at university, several years after this holiday, for which i learned about the history of Finnish and how Swedish used to be the main language spoken in Finland until Finnish was introduced as the main language. One day, it would be nice to learn a bit more Finnish because it is a really fascinating language!

Danish

I went to Denmark a few times on holiday, so i learned a few Danish words while i was there. Mainly i know food vocabulary!

Now and the future…

Currently i am taking 1-1 tutorial sessions to improve my German language skills, in the hope that i will someday be able to either live and work in Germany or at least communicate in German on a regular basis while working here in the UK. It is my favourite language so i decided to give it a shot, and i’m finding that i can actually remember a lot of my school German when prompted! The only problem is getting my head around all the grammar rules again!

In the future, i would like to maybe give Arabic another shot or start learning Finnish, as both are quite difficult to learn. I would love to learn Swedish properly, and i would like to improve my French to i can communicate more fluently in it!

My main aim is to become fluent in another language before i’m 30, so i’ve got 5 more years to get cracking!

Today i thought i’d share some thoughts on translated fiction.

I wrote my postgraduate dissertation on translated fiction and tried to find out why we in the UK have so few translated titles in comparison to native titles. One single statistic keeps popping up: apparently approximately 3% of books published in the UK are translated. I looked everywhere to find where this statistic came from and couldn’t find a single thing about it. Who knows how old this stat is, or even if it has changed by now, but 3% is still quite a small amount.

Why does translated fiction make up only 3% in the UK?

Well, the main problem is that people seem to think that the translation is off-putting if it isn’t very good or maybe it’s a bit clunky. After all, the best translation is the one which you can’t tell that it is a translation. It may be that one translator might not be the right candidate to translate a title, but sometimes they are the only one available. Or maybe publishers want to get the translation out into the market quickly so the translation may not be as perfect as it could be. Who knows?

Do we need translated fiction?

I must point out that, OK, maybe we don’t really need translated fiction in the UK, purely because we have so many great native titles to choose from already, without dipping into foreign book markets. But how boring would it be to not branch out a bit and read something different?

But why should we bother with translated fiction?

I believe that it is good to read translated fiction because it broadens your horizons, extends your knowledge of another country, another way of living, and another way of looking at things. Translated fiction is not something to be afraid of just because it’s written by someone with a “funny” name or because it was written by someone more unknown and foreign. And of course, once you’ve read all the native English books within, for example, the Science-Fiction genre and find yourself getting a bit bored with them, you might as well try foreign titles in that genre.

How do we choose the translated fiction titles we want the UK to read?

Think about how many millions of English-language books we publish in the UK each year, all written by native English speakers (not forgetting about English-language books from the US as well). Then think about how many millions of books are published each year in other countries, for example, Germany. Imagine you had to pick just a handful of German-language books from the whole of Germany’s book market to translate into English. You wouldn’t know where to start. You are limited in money, time and other resources, and maybe can only pick 2 books. After all, translating books isn’t cheap. You have to negotiate contracts with the original author, the translator, and the original publisher. Then work out how how you will market the books in the UK. Unless the books do well in the UK, odds are they won’t make you much profit.

Have any translated books actually done well?

Yes of course, although they don’t come along very often. The best example is The Millennium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson (from Sweden) which shot to the top of the bestsellers lists in the UK and many other countries. Plus, they were adapted into Swedish-language films and then into English-language films, which tapped into a whole new audience. These books are easily the best to emerge from the recent popularity of translated Scandinavian crime fiction.

If they’re so uncommon, then am i likely to have read a translated title?

You might be surprised at how many classic novels have actually come from another language. Maybe you read some when you were a child, or at school. A few examples:

  • Grimm’s Fairy Tales – Brothers Grimm (German)
  • Pippi Longstocking – Astrid Lindgren (Swedish)
  • War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy (Russian)
  • The Metamorphosis – Franz Kafka
  • The Diary of a Young Girl – Anne Frank (Dutch)

What do YOU think of translated fiction?

I believe we should read more of it, and get that 3% increased so we can enjoy more foreign titles. I try to buy more translated titles when i buy a bunch of books, because i am curious about other countries and how they view things differently. I also enjoy discovering books which no-one else i know has read and therefore i can share and recommend them, as i do here on this blog!

Where can i find translated fiction titles?

Just keep a look out in your local library, bookshop, or online book retailer for translated fiction. There are many available in print format, but more and more are becoming available as ebooks, which is really useful!

Where can i find out more about translated fiction?

There are many places to find out about these titles:

There are some publishers who specialise in translated fiction:

If you want to read any translated fiction titles that i can recommend, have a look at my Translated Fiction page for the booklist and reviews of all the books i’ve read.