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Harry Potter translation

by richardhall, August 1, 2007

Messages: 43

Language: English

richardhall (User's profile) August 1, 2007, 10:54:36 AM

I've just read this on a blog I happened across:
And at the risk of inviting another flame war, I find it worth noting that there is no official translation into Esperanto, which to me makes a statement about the success and future of this language.
I'm not a great HP fan myself, and I have no desire to read an Esperanto translation. But is the writer correct to see this lack as a sign of the weakness of Esperanto? How would you rate the morale of the Es[eranto community?

white knight (User's profile) August 1, 2007, 11:54:16 AM

Well, I am a bit of a HP-fan. But I think it quite
unnecesary to translate the books into Esperanto. These books are translated into nearly every language. So, if you are not able to read it in the origin, you sure will find these in your own language.
As for me, I prefer reading books in the original languages (if I know these) or in my own language, or in English.
In Esperanto I only read books, written in that language, no translations.
I do not find it a sign of the weakness of Esperanto if these books are not translated in our language.

mnlg (User's profile) August 1, 2007, 12:00:38 PM

I do not care much about Hareo Vazisto, but I agree that Esperanto would offer a richer array of literary works if those books had an Esperanto version. However, as WK pointed out, there's little use for a bridge language if you can already find a version that you can read. I am grateful to Esperanto that I could read Estonian literature. I'm not sure I would have managed to find it translated to my native language.

Miland (User's profile) August 1, 2007, 12:51:18 PM

Actually, the first Harry Potter book has already been translated into E-o and existed for over three years, but it seems that enthusiasts have been unsuccessful in eliciting any helpful response from Rowling's agent. However no-one mentions having written to the author herself. Here's the website with the story:

erinja (User's profile) August 1, 2007, 3:33:29 PM

I personally know some of the people who have worked to get the Esperanto translation published. I assure you that it was not through lack of trying. People made extensive appeals, not only to Rowling's agent but also to the UK publisher (Bloomsbury) and the US publisher (Scholastic), to no avail. I don't know if they tried contacting Rowling herself, but I'm sure she gets so much mail, she would never read it all anyway.

Also, the translation was done by a group of people, not a single translator. I think that the HP people like to keep more of a handle on the translation work, and they do not necessarily want to put their official stamp of approval on the Esperanto translation, which they really know nothing about. For all they know it could be the shoddy work of amateurs.

Having said this, if the refusal to sanction the translation continues, I wouldn't be surprised if someone eventually printed the translation without official sanction, as was done with the Lord of the Rings books. I believe those were published in Russia, where copyright rules are treated with considerably more laxity.

With Harry Potter in particular, I think it does reflect somewhat badly that we have no authorized translation, since there are even Latin and Ancient Greek versions. I know that reading Harry Potter is a popular way to practice a language; you are already familiar with the story, so there is less need of a dictionary than there otherwise might be. In the grand scheme of things, it doesn't really matter, but it is too bad that the publishers have been so difficult about this.

Coyoteki (User's profile) August 1, 2007, 9:09:22 PM

No, thank you. Neither in my native language, spanish, nor english.

Harry Potter, as other book of fantasy, is an easy way to obfuscate to all those who can read, specially ingenuous children and changeable teens.

Books of fantasy are traps, to don't see beyond the reality of the whole world which is the main objetive of the mentality manipulators, "unnoble" nobility, gentry.
They are evil-minded books once the capitalist publishing company distributes them per millions.
Harry Potter, also have topics as "industrial love".

Writers start to create a book of fantasy because it is a way to escape from the sad and unjust reality, or a way to be recognized.

I have a world of fantasy in mind, but that is not our own, I won't write about it 'cause it won't help anybody. My life goal is to help everybody, that's why I'm learning esperanto.

I just saw the some words of JK Rowling: pleasure of reading. I means Harry Potter is just an entertainment, and that is very malicious. Entertainment are creations from the gentry to average people. To maintain
minds with a lethargy life, a life with smoke barriers, where there's an individualist spirit among average people, unnecessary industrial comforts become anxious...a great fall for the humanity. If the industries accomplish its mission, the ozone layer won't be of ozone, then the maximun industry could be created and the not much freedom we have could disappear...oxygen industry.

Expelliarmus to JK Rowling.

bjoern (User's profile) August 1, 2007, 11:19:13 PM

Erinja: The funny thing about them fearing that it is "the shoddy work of amateurs" is that, in fact, they don't know if the translations into other native languages are any better. The Danish transaltion, for instance, is pretty crappy. The translator forgets what she called people two chapters ago, and even adds and removes bits (for no real reason). The Esperanto translation can't be much worse.

Personally, I support the idea of a translation. It wouldn't hurt, anyway -- though most people would probably just relegate it to the curiosities department along with the Latin and Ancient Greek translations, it might still heighten the awareness of the language.

Coyoteki: You seriously need to get out more.

fanturmandos (User's profile) August 2, 2007, 1:08:22 AM

bjoern:Coyoteki: You seriously need to get out more.

My sister has the Latin version and she said it helped her a lot with the language. I want the French version. I would totally buy an Esperanto version, but I would want to buy only a "official" version.

I'm a huge HP fan by the way! rido.gif

erinja (User's profile) August 2, 2007, 1:18:09 AM

bjoern, Danish isn't the only language for which I've heard complaints. I heard that in the Slovenian translation, the first few books were done by someone who everyone liked a lot. For the last couple, the publisher changed translators to some guy who didn't bother reading the previous books, translated poorly, and put a huge section of footnotes in the back explaining his reasons for translating things in different ways (and his reasoning was usually flat-out wrong or based on a complete misunderstanding of the English). I have also heard that in many translations, they make the text sound much more plodding and juvenile than the English, and thereby insult the intelligence of the children who read it.

fanturmandos: I have both the French and the Latin versions of the first book. I am about 60% through the French version, though I haven't done much with the Latin. It has definitely helped me pick up some more vocab, and although I didn't like how they translated a few terms and names, I liked how they called the Sorting Hat the "Choixpeau". I thought that was really clever. Btw I bought my copy, paperback, on It wasn't very expensive at all.

Coyoteki: I am a long-time reader of science fiction and some fantasy. It has been my impression that fantasy and science fiction books usually present a darker view of the universe than straight-off novels that take place in the present day. I understand that you have not read the HP books and do not plan to. But I've read all 7 of them and can assure you that for the most part, they present a dark view of human nature, and do a good job of showing how good people can sometimes do bad things - and bad people, sometimes, can do good things as well. It's a far more nuanced view of humanity than most childrens' books show. I don't much care whether someone decides to read or not read a given book, and for what reasons, but it seems unfair to cast aspersions on an entire genre by dismissing it as "evil-minded".

And btw I am a great believer in the pleasure of reading. I think it's much more constructive than "the pleasure of tv-watching" or "the pleasure of defacing someone's wall with graffiti". You can learn a lot from reading books you enjoy; enjoyment doesn't mean that you don't learn anything.

Shawna (User's profile) August 2, 2007, 4:57:38 AM

Coyoteki: I'm with Erinja. I've read sci-fi and fantasy my whole life. I'm a devout Catholic Christian.

I've always laughed at the religious people who think it teaches witchcraft. I'm a former Wiccan, and, trust me, the Harry Potter universe has absolutely NO resemblance to modern day Wicca.

The problem that people seem to have is that parents don't take responsibility anymore. I don't know about anyone here, but I know my parents made it clear the difference between fantasy and reality well before I was five years old.

Nowadays, parents freak that their kids might read HP, take out the broomstick and jump off the roof. Of course, it's more work to actually read the books before you let your kids read them, or read them to your kids, instead of protesting the book because it might harm kids!

As a "nerd" in school, I did like reading fantasy books. Rather than making me not face reality, I could see how characters in the books dealt with similar problems. Most of us won't go up against an evil wizard (I hope), but we all know what it's like to have seen something bad occuring in your midst, and no one listens to you for any number of reasons.

A lot of people don't like the books for a simple reason: it's not the way they'd have written it. Really. I've lost count of how many Christian reviewers complain that God is never mentioned in the books. Well, do keep in mind that England's church-going rate is well-below the USA's, for example. Also, if God was mentioned every other word, it wouldn't be JK Rowling's book.

I also hate how most of the same reviewers complain that Harry breaks the rules and gets away with them, and that's not a good role model for kids. You're right. Kids should never see people break the rules in stories. That would get rid of Cinderella (she should have stayed at home and not listen to the obviously satanic fairies), Hansel and Gretel (who should have either died properly in the woods or complacently let the witch eat them), and Snow White (the hunter should have obeyed the queen and snuffed S. White's life out), just to name a few.

Many people agree that some rules have to be broken in order to bring about a greater good. I'd heard of a law like that, brought up when pacifists destroyed some military property, saying that their action prevented an even worse one from occuring. I'm not saying I agree with them, but you can see the logic.

Harry's breaking the rules, which all of us have done, unless your initials just happen to be J.C., are never done maliciously. He's broken laws against underage magic to save lives, for example. Yeah, we shouldn't teach kids to save lives. Several adults also break rules, in order to keep children safe.

Now there are some people who probably can't or shouldn't deal with a lot of fantasy. My godson had his girlfriend join our Dungeons and Dragons game, and we had to throw her out because she kept disrupting things, acting out of character, saying bizzare things (like there were vampires in her apartment complex).

It wasn't until after we threw her out that my godson admitted she was an unmedicated schizophrenic with a history of serious delusions. She was precisely the wrong person to be mucking about with fantasy, because the boundaries were blurred in her case.

But saying no one should read fantasy novels? I have bipolar disorder, and one time, when I was hospitalized after a medication error, a friend was told not to bring me fantasy or sci-fi because "it would upset me". Never mind I read it all the time, and my own doctors know it has no bearing on my disorder.

The point of this topic was whether or not HP should be translated into Esperanto (I didn't know about the Latin and Ancient Greek versions...but no Esperanto, grr), not whether or not kids would be hurt by the make-believe, which kids have been doing for eons, and they seem to almost always become responsible adults who don't believe in literal wizarding schools and broomstick lacrosse.


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