Non-English translations

Any discussion related to Victor's Hugo's Les Misérables, in any language.
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Gigi
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Re: Non-English translations

Postby Gigi » Sun Apr 21, 2013 10:05 pm

As far as I know, there is only one translation in Finnish, and it's definitely a fact that Les Mis has never been translated entirely into Finnish. The translation is quite old-fashioned and you can clearly see that it was made by a poet. And while there aren't that many translation errors that I've noticed, there is one that's... really weird and funny. Each time in the book when there are things like "You are a fool" or "He is stupid", for some mysterious reason the Finnish version translates fool/stupid/etc. as a cow. Yes, a COW.
Grantaire's drunk talks were very much shortened (just like every digression and longer speech) but the part that remained somehow fit very well with the Finnish language. I don't know if it's got something to do with the Finnish peoples' famously excessive drinking habits...
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23623
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Re: Non-English translations

Postby 23623 » Thu Jan 28, 2016 4:38 am

Hi non-native English speakers! I'm digging up old thread again. It's a question that suddenly comes up to me and I feel that I won't concentrate on my lessons for the rest of the day if I don't ask...

So what I'm wondering is...
What have your translations done with the title?

I know English translations keep the original French title probably because it's too weird to translate it into 'The Miserable'. I guess it's true of many other European translations. But since some translations don't even keep the characters' names, according to previous posts...well, I'm not so sure if they still keep the title.

However, Chinese translations rarely keep titles in their original language. In fact, the Chinese (Mandarin, to be precise) translation I've read translates the title into...literally 'The Miserable World', which is perfectly fine. But I never understand why Cantonese translators translate the title into... 'Tears of Lonely Stars' :shock: The first time I came across this translation, I never expected that it was referring to Les Mis!
*EDIT* That translation was actually for the movie. I saw it on the poster of another Hugh Jackman movie and it was written next to his name. Actually I don't know about Cantonese translation of the book. But anyway that translation was just...unconventional :lol:

I'm just wondering whether similar things happen in other non-English translations as well. :mrgreen:

About name translation, Chinese translators do translate foreign names because it's too strange to not do so. Usually, they look for Chinese characters with similar pronunciation to approximate the *foreign names* syllable by syllable. But don't expect the approximation to make any sense (probably no more meaningful than Valjean's Greek name on the previous page!) or to sound like a normal Chinese name (in most cases the translation will be very very far from that). There are exceptions though. If the original foreign name carries some special meanings, it can be translated according to its meaning, not pronunciation. For example, Montparnasse is translated as "the Chinese equivalent of the word *Mountain* + phonetic approximation of *Parnasse*". "M. Le Blanc" can be translated into a perfectly normal Chinese name ("Mr. White", as the color "white", which is a common surname in China). Now I'm also wondering how Korean and Japanese translators deal with characters' names. Any Koreans or Japanese here to enlighten me? :wink:
Note: *Foreign names* here shall mean names in alphabetic languages. Sorry for the ambiguity.
Last edited by 23623 on Fri Jan 29, 2016 2:10 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Chantefleurie
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Re: Non-English translations

Postby Chantefleurie » Thu Jan 28, 2016 4:09 pm

Oh, interesting. Can't speak for Japanese or Korean, but the Russian translation makes it "The Rejected/Outcasted".

Funny thing. When I tried to look up how Google Translate translates the Russian name, it actually wrote "Les Misérables" in the English column. :D It only does so for the 3rd person plural, though, the other forms of the adjective are fine. But it's hilarious that it recognized it as the title rather than a word. :lol:
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Re: Non-English translations

Postby 23623 » Fri Jan 29, 2016 2:18 am

Oh hi native speaker! :D

I love your Google Translate idea! I put Les Misérables in Google Translate and the Chinese (Mandarin) translation turns out to be "The Miserable World" exactly, while the adjective itself in singular form is still translated into "miserable".

*EDIT* Just realize that Google Translate doesn't distinguish Mandarin and Cantonese...
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Re: Non-English translations

Postby deHavilland » Tue Nov 15, 2016 4:34 pm

Macaron was telling me that there's a new Swedish translation, which I would looove to pick up and scour through.
"Quand vous aurez besoin de Bahorel, capitaine, Bahorel est là! Je sais faire trébucher tous les chevaux du garde-corps avec une ficelle... Rien qu'une petite ficelle. Enfin, pensez à Bahorel du Café Musain!"

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Re: Non-English translations

Postby Olivia_y » Tue Dec 20, 2016 2:15 am

23623 wrote:Now I'm also wondering how Korean and Japanese translators deal with characters' names.

No idea re Korean, but I have the new(ish) Japanese Manga (the one by Arai Takahiro, which I highly recommend because the plot follows the book quite faithfully and the art is gorgeous), and they do phonetic translations for both the title of the book and the character names. You can hear the pronunciations if you listen to the Japanese soundtracks, they're not actually /that/ bad...most of the time. :lol:

I think Chinese is quite a lot harder because it doesn't have a form of writing that deals with phonetics only without attaching any meaning to the words (well technically there is one but I don't think it gets taught or used much in mainstream printing). It's awkward sometimes when (English-speaking) people would want to know what their names 'translated' into Chinese characters mean, and I have to explain that really, you can pretty much make it mean what you want (/tangent)

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Re: Non-English translations

Postby 23623 » Tue Dec 20, 2016 9:56 am

Olivia_y wrote:
23623 wrote:Now I'm also wondering how Korean and Japanese translators deal with characters' names.

No idea re Korean, but I have the new(ish) Japanese Manga (the one by Arai Takahiro, which I highly recommend because the plot follows the book quite faithfully and the art is gorgeous), and they do phonetic translations for both the title of the book and the character names. You can hear the pronunciations if you listen to the Japanese soundtracks, they're not actually /that/ bad...most of the time. :lol:

You mean the Shoujo Cosette anime in which...some people didn't die? :shock: That's very faithful to the original! :mrgreen: Sorry if I've spoiled anything for you. I kind of skimmed through the anime but to be honest I didn't like it very much, maybe because I'm not a fan of Japanese anime in general. The anime style characterization seems a bit weird to me. I may try watching it episode by episode one day, as I've heard that there are lots of book details, but really not sure how I'll like it.

Olivia_y wrote:I think Chinese is quite a lot harder because it doesn't have a form of writing that deals with phonetics only without attaching any meaning to the words (well technically there is one but I don't think it gets taught or used much in mainstream printing). It's awkward sometimes when (English-speaking) people would want to know what their names 'translated' into Chinese characters mean, and I have to explain that really, you can pretty much make it mean what you want (/tangent)

Wait Olivia...are you a native Chinese speaker? :shock: :shock: And wow, I feel you. This happens to me all the time, lol! Attached meanings can be very cool though. Have you read any Chinese translation of Les Mis? Enjolras and Fantine's Chinese names sound quite beautiful and have really "in-character" attached meaning. Fantine's Chinese name has a sense related to beauty and delicacy, and Enjy's name always reminds me of blazing flame. :D
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Re: Non-English translations

Postby Olivia_y » Tue Dec 20, 2016 4:18 pm

23623 wrote:You mean the Shoujo Cosette anime in which...some people didn't die?

No, completely unrelated to the anime, it's a manga series that's only been published over the past year or so. Here's a link to the coverart of the first volume: http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-UasxnkCoTRo/V ... 4934-2.jpg

Yeah Fantine and Enjolras sound pretty good, and Cosette and Éponine are okay more or less. 'Combeferre' makes it sound like he's really old, and 'Marius' sounds awkward in every Chinese translation I've found. Javert throws me off though ('threatening shark'? or 'powerful sand'?...they both make me laugh :lol: )..and Jean Valjean sounds nothing like it's supposed to, I don't even know where they got that 'translation'.

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Re: Non-English translations

Postby 23623 » Wed Dec 21, 2016 3:33 am

Ah yes, Combeferre's Chinese name sounds like someone who's nearing 60, lol. Mabeuf's name gives me the same impression. But I guess Combeferre is indeed one of the oldest in the amis, since the others are still university students by the time he graduates? Definitely not as old as 60 though.

Is there any way to translate “Marius” without making it awkward? :lol:

The Bishop gets a good Chinese name too. Doesn't sound nice in particular, but it means “to bring happiness to you”. Very Bishop-ish!

For me, “Cosette” doesn't sound as cute in Chinese as in English (...I mean French). This name carries no special meaning in Chinese but it appears a bit masculine.

I'm fine with Javert as “powerful sand” actually. It sounds like a normal Chinese name (a bonus for name translation!) and it's not that ridiculous really. Look at what Valjean has to endure! :mrgreen: I guess what happens to Valjean is that the translators were trying very hard to make it sound like a normal Chinese name but failed miserably. Valjean's name translations are indeed nothing like “Valjean”, and even as Chinese names they are just too hilarious.

And thank you very much for the recommendation! This manga series seems interesting. Good thing that Javert doesn't look like a monster, lol. I'll never forgive Shoujo Cosette for what it has done to him. :x Éponine looks great too. This Valjean though... :?: Well...he does look like a convict. I always have the impression that Japanese anime characters all look alike. Here Cosette, Fantine and Enjolras are really indistinguishable if you only look at their faces, lol. Btw I kinda like blond Cosette for the mental image of Valjean seeing Fantine in her daughter, even though I know she's brunette in the book. <3
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Re: Non-English translations

Postby Olivia_y » Wed Dec 21, 2016 10:00 pm

23623 wrote:Here Cosette, Fantine and Enjolras are really indistinguishable if you only look at their faces, lol. Btw I kinda like blond Cosette for the mental image of Valjean seeing Fantine in her daughter, even though I know she's brunette in the book. <3

I know what you mean with the faces, that might be why they kept Cosette blonde, to distinguish her from Éponine.

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Re: Non-English translations

Postby Olivia_y » Sat Feb 11, 2017 8:47 pm

23623 wrote:Look at what Valjean has to endure! :mrgreen: I guess what happens to Valjean is that the translators were trying very hard to make it sound like a normal Chinese name but failed miserably.

OMG I was reading through 'Novel of the Century' (sort of a study on the history of LM, it's mentioned in another thread), and it said that the first attempted translation into Chinese - which was serialised in a newspaper - used 'Jin HuaJin'. :lol: I very nearly burst out laughing in the middle of the bookshop! :lol:

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Re: Non-English translations

Postby 23623 » Sun Feb 12, 2017 3:28 pm

Jin HuaJin...
JIN HUA JIN...

...OMG ROFLMAO

Did they not know that "Jean" is FRENCH not English? And where on earth did that "h" sound come from? :lol:

This reminds me of a Mis video (pretty sure it must be one of the anniversary concerts) from a Chinese website. A viewer did a translation of "24601" in the comment area, by putting corresponding numbers from an ancient numbering system. And it was so hilarious. Apparently we Chinese are making Les Misérables much Less Miserable with all the ridiculous translations. :shock: :lol:
Last edited by 23623 on Mon Feb 13, 2017 4:20 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Non-English translations

Postby Olivia_y » Sun Feb 12, 2017 6:24 pm

I wonder if maybe they were translating it from an English translation.

23623 wrote:A viewer did a translation of "24601" in the comment area, by putting corresponding numbers from an ancient numbering system.

Oh I remember that, it was the 25AC with Norm Lewis. The subtitle was actually '10642', but I'm pretty sure it was deliberate :lol:
There was a pirated version of the 2012 film with subtitles which were truly awful. Like it had Enjolras saying 'we must fight for the right to go to the opera'... :shock:


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