Different translations!

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Post by Norc Wed Jan 04, 2012 10:09 pm

well, since no one else wanted to make the thread, I did, since I am currently working on a German presentation til tomorrow Razz
Norsk trå allesammen! Men vi skal diskutere på ENGELSK!! Wink some here finds it interesting ( Shocked )to read this sort of foreign stuff x)

allright! We all know that The Lord of the Rings (in norwegian) has two or three different translations. One on nynorsk and one in bokmål. they are translated with some (MANY) years between. Same as for the Hobbit. Long have we (the norwayans) discussed what way-of-writing is best and both sides are eaqually (<- correct?) stubborn.

WELL!!!!!! discuss! I've only read the Bokmål version by Torstein Bugge Høvestad (the very same man who translated Harry Potter and changed loads of names) and I think it is great. Ringdrotten here have said the nynorsk version is great too, maybe even better.

SO ! DISKUTER FOLKENS (<- guess what it says folks ;D )
what is best, pros and cons, good examples, bad examples, what namechanging was good and what wasn't (drag in Harry Potter, The Hobbit and all sorts of things here Wink )

btw. Example of name changing. Bilbo Baggins --> Bilbo Lommelund --> Bilbo Skrepping --> Bilbo Sekker
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Post by Ringdrotten Wed Jan 04, 2012 10:27 pm

There are three different Norwegian tranlations Wink I'll see if I can dig up that paper somewhere. It's largely based on examples in Norwegian, though, so I'm afraid the English folk won't be able to understand much. We'll see Smile

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Post by Pettytyrant101 Thu Jan 05, 2012 7:03 am

Dont worry about us non speakers- we can always copy and paste in Babel Fish and get a ludicrous, ridiculous translation!

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Post by Amarië Thu Jan 05, 2012 8:59 am

I first bought the Torstein Bugge Høvestad-translation, and I have been singing it's praise for years over at PT. From the impression I get there are many who are unhappy with the translations into their language. But I feel that TBH is very good at keeping the feel of thing and names, as well as the meaning.

Personally I really liked the TBH-name Lommelun ("pocket + cosy") for Baggins. I heard Sekker ("bags") was used in earlier translations and I thought it was too hard and cold, but then again I never actually read that translation so I only have the first impression of that name.

Skrepping is both pretty accurate in meaning , "feel" and form. In my opinion at least. (Skreppe is an old name for a bag or ruck sack.) It took a while to get used to it replacing Lommelun, but now I like it.

The Ringdrotten translation is Nerdvana for me, as admire Tolkien and the father of Nynorsk Ivar Aasen, and I have always felt they should have met and had a chat. And here their work is combined.

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Post by Pettytyrant101 Thu Jan 05, 2012 9:07 am

I've never quite understood the need for translating proper names like Baggins. I mean the Scots surname Campbell, is an anglised form of an older Gaeilc word which translates literally as (not very flatteringly) 'crooked mouth', similarly the surname Cameron comes from 'crooked nose'- yet if a Campbell or Cameron were to visit Norway presumably they would not be required to translate their name to reflect this older root (of which most Scots, even those with the surnames, are unaware of anyway). You'd still be called Campbell or Cameron surely? Which brings me back to Baggins- even if it does have a secondary meaning in Tolkien is it necessary to convey that in a translation?

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Post by Amarië Thu Jan 05, 2012 9:42 am

I am really not sure if Baggins has a "meaning" that can be translated. Oh Looooore Maaaaaasters?

But the reason for names like Merry, Samwise and Shire being translated, is because Tolkien saw names like this as being translated into English from Westron (?), so it makes sense to translate them again using Norwegian old forms and words. They have a specific meaning which Tolkien found important, and this is lost if you don't translate.

Now if you had been a character in the Hobbit or Harry Potter, you might have been translated into an equivalent Norwegian/Norse name. HP is a kids book, and many of the names are almost cartoony and explains about the character's ...um character, sometimes they are down right plot spoilers. Ludo the gambler and Lupin the werewolf... Not a big shock. Sirius Black the black dog. And when the names are so important to the story you have to translate them as well.

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Post by Pettytyrant101 Thu Jan 05, 2012 10:01 am

I can see the point- but I'm not sure Tolkien wasn't a bit overzelous on this sort of thing (a crit of Tolkien I know!!!!) but to stick with the example above Campbell is the modern english form of the old gaelic name Cam Beul, which as noted meands crooked or slanted mouth, but the anglised form Campbell is made up of two english words completely and utterly unrelated to the meaning, Camp and Bell. But they are related to the sounds in the original name.
So whilst Tolkien transferred Westron to English I am not sure in reality the meaning of words carries across that way in practice.

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Post by Norc Thu Jan 05, 2012 10:02 am

Amarië wrote:I am really not sure if Baggins has a "meaning" that can be translated. Oh Looooore Maaaaaasters?

But the reason for names like Merry, Samwise and Shire being translated, is because Tolkien saw names like this as being translated into English from Westron (?), so it makes sense to translate them again using Norwegian old forms and words. They have a specific meaning which Tolkien found important, and this is lost if you don't translate.

Now if you had been a character in the Hobbit or Harry Potter, you might have been translated into an equivalent Norwegian/Norse name. HP is a kids book, and many of the names are almost cartoony and explains about the character's ...um character, sometimes they are down right plot spoilers. Ludo the gambler and Lupin the werewolf... Not a big shock. Sirius Black the black dog. And when the names are so important to the story you have to translate them as well.

He translated the names in HP so that they would feel norwegian, not english, as it is a children's book (afterwards it has become an all people's book). I think the same thing about LOTR and TH. As well as Tolkien had intended the names to have meaning and TBH felt they should have meaning in Norwegian too. Shelob is Hutula in norwegian. I have no idea why, but maybe it is a good example for where he translated the name only to make it sound norwegian. the SH-sound isn't too common. it would become sjilåb.. which looks ridiculos. we would say(it think) S + he (as in Cher (the singer xD)) and lob.

Samwise Gamgee- Samvis Gamgod
Merryadoc Brandybuck - Muntiadoc Brennibukk
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Post by Pettytyrant101 Thu Jan 05, 2012 10:09 am

It is weird to think if you could really go and watch the events of LotR's they would all be talking an unknown language and have completely different names. In westron Frodo Baggins is Maura Labingi. Or Sam Gamgee as Banazîr Galbasi. Just odd to think of that!

Found this on wiki which I don't remember hearing elsewhere, Tolkien talking about the origin of Gamgee;

"There was a curious local character, an old man who used to go about swapping gossip and weather-wisdom and such like. To amuse my children I named him Gaffer Gamgee... The choice of Gamgee was primarily directed by alliteration; but I did not invent it. It was caught out of childhood memory, as a comic word or name. It was in fact the name when I was small (in Birmingham) for 'cotton-wool'. (Hence the association of the Gamgees with the Cottons.) I knew nothing of its origin."

I never knew the cotton wool connection and therefore the connection in Lotr's to the Cotton family- clever Prof!

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Post by Kafria Thu Jan 05, 2012 10:24 am

Okay, I may have missed this being asked elsewhere or earlier, but it seems as if these different translations involve different dialects.
If so, how does that come about?

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Post by Amarië Thu Jan 05, 2012 11:47 am

Where to begin...
Norway has a lot of dialects. Drive for 5 minutes, and you will find changes to how people speak.

The written Norse died out during the plague, but lived on as dialects, and Norway came under Danish rule.

To be extremly general:
Bokmål (TBH-edition) is based on Danish and East Norwegian dialects who were much or partially influenced by Danish.

Nynorsk (Ringdrotten) is based on dialects from of Western Norway, less or not at all influenced by Danish. The idea was to make a new, modern Norse language.

.... and we have been arguing about what is the correct solution ever since. Smile

Therefore the two (three) translations have different backgrounds and dialects to choose from when they try to show the different 'dialects' of elves, men and hobbits in ME.

Fun fact: Ivar Aasen had a party trick. When he came to new place in search for what he thought was the true Norwegian language, he would listen to how for example the maid talked and he was then able to tell where she was originally from, sometimes down to the exact farm where she had grown up.

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Post by Elthir Thu Jan 05, 2012 2:12 pm

Tolkien noted that the name Baggins is intended to recall English bag Smile

This name does appear in the later list that JRRT made for translators -- where it's noted that all names not in the list should be left entirely unchanged. Shire is on the list, but Bilbo, Frodo, Meriadoc and Samwise are not, and Tolkien noted that Peregrin should not be altered (etymologies or explanations of these names aside for now).

As I interpret Hammond and Scull on the matter, this list seems to be a sort of later compromise -- in other words, JRRT knew translation was likely going to occur despite his protests, so he decided to get involved to avoid totally off base results. The characterization seems possible and even likely enough in my opinion, given that there are at least two earlier letters in which Tolkien seems quite annoyed with translations of, or tinkerings with, his nomenclature.

Tolkien's nomenclature can be a confusing mix: just for example, the text implies that many of the Celtic type Hobbit names are genuine forms (spoken in Middle-earth not translations), despite that some appear to be based on known names from Primary World sources. And yet Meriadoc is not! for we know his real name is Kalimac Brandagamba... and moreover, that a translation 'Marchbuck' would have been nearer than Brandybuck! noting Tolkien's fun with the names at the end of Appendix F.

Let's say wonderfully detailed! but not exactly easy for translators.



Also there are now some Hobbit names 'in the mix' that have been taken from 'rejected' versions of Appendix F -- or at the least, names that do not appear in the author-published version of the appendices for whatever reason -- just to add to a scenario that wasn't already confusing enough I guess.

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Post by Ringdrotten Thu Jan 05, 2012 5:15 pm

Pettytyrant101 wrote:I've never quite understood the need for translating proper names like Baggins. I mean the Scots surname Campbell, is an anglised form of an older Gaeilc word which translates literally as (not very flatteringly) 'crooked mouth', similarly the surname Cameron comes from 'crooked nose'- yet if a Campbell or Cameron were to visit Norway presumably they would not be required to translate their name to reflect this older root

Translating a real person's name and a fantasy character's name are two different things entirely. Baggins, for example, is a name that sounds very English, but is not in any way similar to a Norwegian name or word. Merry, too, sounds odd. It's hard to explain this, so an example to illustrate it seems a better idea:

"Three Billy Goats Gruff" is a Norwegian folk tale (De tre bukkene Bruse"). If the goats' names hadn't been translated, the English fairytale would be called "The Three Goats Bruse" - which sounds silly. When it comes to fantasy I think it is important that certain names are translated, or else you'll be reading a story in Norwegian that has English characters in it, which just doesn't feel right.

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Post by Elthir Thu Jan 05, 2012 5:44 pm

Yet one of the reasons for Tolkien's objection seems to be about 'Englishness'

'He continued to prefer that The Lord of the Rings in translation preserve the essential Englishness of many of the story's personal and place names, but he came to accept that other translators were likely to take a line similar to those of the Dutch and Swedish editions, who had sometimes misunderstood their source, and instead of insisting on no translation, he attempted to influence the translator through an explanatory document.'

Hammond and Scull, commentary on Nomenclature

This characterization seems to refer, at least in part, to letter 190, where Tolkien was actually 'very angry indeed' with the translation of his nomenclature, noting (full contex is best of course), with respect to the Dutch translator: 'I presume that if I had presented the Hobbits as speaking Italian, Russian, Chinese, or what you will, he would have left the names alone.'

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Post by Pettytyrant101 Thu Jan 05, 2012 6:34 pm

I was thinking just the same thing Elthir. Surely hobbits and the Shire are quintissentially English whether the setting is fantasy or not, and therefore preserving an english identity to the place and person names would be a good thing.

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Post by Ringdrotten Thu Jan 05, 2012 6:47 pm

I understand. Even still, I am glad that the translators have chosen to change the names that can't be pronounced in Norwegian without sounding strange and weird. In the first translation of LotR to Norwegian, many names are left unchanged, like Merry. It works, but feels strange all the same. He only translated some names, though. He did translate Baggins to Sekker, while the Sackville-Bagginses are called Sackville-Sekker (one of the many reasons why I think it is a piss poor translation and every book should be burnt) Mad

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Post by Kafria Thu Jan 05, 2012 6:48 pm

Is it not also something to do with Tolkien idea of his tales as representing a 'lost english mythology'? A contempary 'history' to the Norse sagas - Odin, Yaggdrasil etc. These are Norse myth, so we don't alter the names, it follows that if LOTR is an english myth you don't change the names.

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Post by Amarië Thu Jan 05, 2012 7:05 pm

You do know that all the dwarves and Gandalf have names he found in a Norse poem? Even the oakenshield is found there. The dwarfs in Norse mythology were great smiths and made beautiful jewelry. He borrowed here and found inspiration there.

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Post by Kafria Thu Jan 05, 2012 7:14 pm

As you may have picked up, I am not particularly a Tolkien scholar, I've only read the TH and LOTR, therefore often don't know a lot of the background stuff.

I didn't know that Norse poetry was a source for the dwarf names, but I would suggest on that makes the idea that Tolkien felt the other names shouldn't be translated stronger.

Dwarves retain names from a separate heritage within this tale, there are not translated so the Hobbits, who have a different heritage should retain theres when told even in another language.

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Post by Pettytyrant101 Thu Jan 05, 2012 7:16 pm

Yes but those are dwarves- nothing wrong when Tolkien used Norse names in translating them back into their norse- but hobbits are quientissentially English, and I'm speaking as a Scot here, hobbits have english characteristics, for me as a non-english it would take a big part away of the indentity of the hobbits for me for the names not be in english. It suggests so much about them.

I agree entirely with you on this one Kafria.

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Post by Kafria Thu Jan 05, 2012 7:22 pm

hobbits have english characteristics,

for a particular value of english, the kind of idealised 'middle england' idea of english that has little to do with the reality Laughing

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Post by Pettytyrant101 Thu Jan 05, 2012 7:27 pm

Well yes, but its not an imposed one, its an english myth of the english.

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Post by Ringdrotten Thu Jan 05, 2012 7:28 pm

As I said, I understand this, but I'm happy the names are translated anyway. Reading about someone who's supposed to be English in any language but English just feels very wrong (the Harry Potter books are good examples of this). However wrong and untrue to Tolkien translating his names is, it doesn't change the fact that reading translations is much more pleasant when you don't have to switch between languages all the time.

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Post by Pettytyrant101 Thu Jan 05, 2012 7:33 pm

I can undertsand that Ringdrotten for everything other than names of people.
But if I read a french book for example that has been translated to english it is very rare for french names to be translated to an english equivelent, especially if the book is set in France. Characters and places retain their French names.
Now whilst ME is imagined Tolkien made it quite clear it was an english myth to replace those Tolkien believed were lost after the Norman Conquest. And the hobbits are very much his English representives in that. So if I were reading it in translation I would, as with the French above, prefer it to remain with the original names as the names themselves convey that englishness (or frenchness indeed).

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Post by Ringdrotten Thu Jan 05, 2012 8:07 pm

Pettytyrant101 wrote:Characters and places retain their French names.

So do foreign names and places in almost all Norwegian translations too, except for books in the fantasy genre. In fantasy, for me, names with foreign spelling and pronounciation don't work.

Pettytyrant101 wrote:So if I were reading it in translation I would, as with the French above, prefer it to remain with the original names as the names themselves convey that englishness (or frenchness indeed).


You would, I wouldn't Wink

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