May 24, 2014

How does a certain word feel to you? Plus giveaway!

I'm so used to writing and reading in English that I was excited but also anxious to read the translation of A Purrfect Match. Well, I finished reading Stubentiger wider Willen. It was like reading a completely different book. ;-)

http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=3437


Nevertheless I enjoyed reading it in German. Some words or phrases didn't translate well and it felt odd to read these sentences. But here's what really got me thinking:

In m/m fiction the words "cock" and "ass" are used regularly. I never really thought whether these words would sound derogatory or not. Hmm, maybe derogatory isn't the right word to describe my feelings. Anyway, when I read the book in German I was taken aback by the translation because it sounded so vulgar. (Ah, see, I knew the word would come to me. Damn bilingualism!) If I'd written the book in German right away I'd probably used words like "penis" and "butt". While I know they mean the same, they sound softer and more pleasant to my ears.

http://www.amazon.de/Stubentiger-wider-Willen-Chris-Kat-ebook/dp/B00K6EDP3O


What's your opinion on the matter? I'm really interested in your honest opinion.

I'm giving away a paperback copy of Stubentiger wider Willen (for the German readers) or a paperback copy of A Purrfect Match to one commenter. The winner will be drawn by random.org on May 27th.

24 comments:

  1. I had the same impression of "vulgarity" when I read a translation in French of a book that I loved in English. All along the book (not yours, I don't read German) The translation was going from too formal dialogs when the MC were speaking to each other to vulgar when it was in the sex scenes. That's why I didn't try to buy other translations of my favorite books.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The German translation for "A Purrfect Match" is good but the "vulgarity" really got to me sometimes. I'm not going to buy translated books (I'll keep reading the books that interest me in English) but I got a couple of German books from Cursed Verlag and I like those. :)

      Delete
  2. Because of translation problems I can't read Robin Hobb's books in English (at least not her assassin and fools series). In the Dutch version a prince (quite an important character) is called Veritas, which, you know, sounds cool. In the English version his name is Verity... I had a loud and bouncy female housemate by that same name for a few years... I just can't read the book any more because the name now just ruins it for me :P The prince is the dark and broody type but the associations I have with the name these days just doesn't work for me any more :P

    I haven't had much English/Dutch translation problems otherwise because I mostly stick to one of the two languages for books I read.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. lol I can see why that's a problem for you! I usually read English books because I like the flow of that language better. But I think I'll give German books a go again from time to time.

      Thank you for stopping by, Kia!

      Delete
  3. I've been thinking about this as to my own books, how they would sound translated into Norwegian, and yes, "cock" and "ass" would definitely sounds vulgar. ^^;; I've never read any kind of "sexual" book in German, but I imagine it's the same. Would definitely go for the more common words in translation. ^^;;

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was odd that "cock" and "ass" sounded perfectly fine in English but that the direct German translation irked me so much. In a different book it might not have troubled me. Honestly, it didn't throw me out of the story or anything, it just got me thinking.

      Thank you for stopping by!

      Delete
  4. I found the same to be true with some thing I read in Spanish and Italian. At the aem time, some things sounded almost sweet.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's my experience as well. Thank you for stopping by, Debby!

      Delete
  5. Interesting question. I think sometimes it's better to use different words in German to express the same. What sounds good in English can turn into something vulgar and awkward, translated into German.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's true. Like I said, it didn't pull me out of the story but in the first moment I was taken aback and it got me thinking. I'm still going to read a couple of German books in the future, it was a pleasant experience after all.

      Delete
  6. I think that any translation without a really good understanding is going to have problems like that. Every language has its phrases that have no real translation in another language. I imagine that other things would sound vulgar to us of translated from German.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The translation was a good one, that's not the issue. Personally I'd chosen a couple different words though. But yes, there are some phrases you can't translate well into another language.

      Thanks for stopping by, Jen!

      Delete
  7. I've found that the few translations I've read from English into French, Italian, or German have a hard time capturing the essence of American idioms. Since there is so much to read in those languages in the original, I've given up on translations of American works.

    skadlec1@yahoo.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I haven't read a lot of translations recently. I started reading books solely in English over a decade ago. At first I didn't want to wait for the translations and then I just liked the original works better.

      I'm going to read original German works in the future because there are some gems waiting for me. :)

      Thank you for stopping by, Susan!

      Delete
  8. Hi Chris,

    translations are always tricky, but I think especially in the romance genre you have to be carefull what words you choose as a translator, because the story and the mood is easily destroyed by a vulgar word choice.

    dannyfiredragon at aol.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's true. Like I said earlier, the translation is a good one. I was mostly surprised by a couple of word choices. Actually I liked the translation so much that I bought a few German books from Cursed Verlag. :)

      Delete
  9. I've only read in english but when I did first start reading m/m romance it was a little shocking to see words like ass, asshole, dick, penise, & a whole bunch of other words.

    Deborah H
    Deborahhansen52@yahoo.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I never thought about that! Thanks for bringing it up, Deborah.

      Delete
  10. I too am German/English bilingual and find that translations can be problematic with certain words. I can see where using cock and ass would sound more vulgar. In fact if I had had the translation job I would have used my discretion and changed to butt and penis anyway in the hope the author wouldn't mind.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm really not criticizing the translator's work, it was just something I never thought about before.

      Thanks a lot for stopping by, Ilona!

      Delete
  11. I guess for me, because I studied in Wales in a bilingual university, I got used to hearing terms and slang names that hearing other languages use softer words that have the same meaning. I don't speak any second languages fluently, just bits here and there, but I love trying to pick up new words to use in writing. For me, most places can be defined by the language or slang that they use, because for me, that's what I notice first. In St. Anton they speak an italian/german blend and it's gorgeous... sorry... think I went a bit awry there lol! My point is, language is beautiful but having visited different places, I'm not really bothered by synonyms of words, however I do understand how different accents or languages can make words sound more aggressive or vulgar. Does that makes sense?

    Kjbirch89@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Kelly!

      Yes, that makes perfect sense to me. I'm not bothered by synonyms either but sometimes words carry different undertones and that's what got me thinking. :)

      Thanks a lot for stopping by!

      Delete
  12. Translations are always tricky. You have slang and cultural idioms to deal with as well as differences in sentence structuring and word usage. I have read a few translations; some were good and others not so good. Having an understanding of the culture the book was originally published in certainly helps. I think readers just have to approach these books with an open mind and do the best we can to look for the heart of the story.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I like your way of thinking! :) I always try to look for the best in a book and even if it's one that didn't grab me, I usually find something that I liked about it. :)

      Thank you for stopping by!

      Delete