Thursday, February 07, 2013

Retranslating Children’s Literature

As you read this, I’m at a conference in Rouen, France, on retranslating children’s literature. I was intrigued by this conference because although there has now been more research on translating works for children, we aren’t discussing retranslating that much yet, and clearly how books are translated will change over time.

In the paper I’ll be giving, I will talk about how translations of Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn from English to Swedish were quite different between the 1940s and 1970s from the way they were before and after that period. So I think of those decades are a rather more conservative, protectionist time, and I’ll explain why.

If anyone else has researched retranslations, what have you found and why do you think that is? It’s a fascinating topic and I look forward to learning more about it.


Nora Bartels said...

Just now there is a big debate in Germany going on about children's books, also some of the translated kinds (for example Lindgren), where words that are identified as racist are used. One of the biggest children's books publishing company recently changed all these words in their books. I think that's a quite interesting step.

Unknown said...

Really interesting! I wish I could be there for the talk. :)

nahidworld said...

Language translation is now a great area to consider for a career. In light of our growing global economy, an increasing variety of various languages are being used in business as well as in social settings. The need for individuals with the ability to translate languages is ever increasing and jobs can now be found in practically every industry imaginable for skilled translators and interpreters.

B.J. Epstein said...

It was an interesting conference. Among other things, it raised the idea of how different books become canonical in certain countries. For example, why is Anne of Green Gables so popular in Poland that it has been retranslated many times?

As for the racist terms, I think that it makes sense to keep the originals in scholarly editions or editions for interested children and adults. Such editions should come with historical and cultural context. But I'm not so sure about printing children's books with racist terms/ideas and no context..

Best wishes,