Have you been caught up in Harry Potter fever this week? I have yet to see the final installment (am I the only one?!) but can’t wait. 10 years, 7 books, 8 films. And of course the phenomonen is not just in Harry’s native UK – the books have been officially translated into at least 67 other languages, with a number of unofficial versions also available for those who just couldn’t wait (with varying results…).
The titles of the books and films are often not a direct translation of the English – even in America the “Philosopher’s Stone” was replaced with “Sorceror’s”. And the translators had great fun with the whole “Tom Marvolo Riddle/I am Lord Voldemort” wordplay challenge, not to mention the various other rhymes, acronyms, dialects, jokes, invented words, initials and spellings so vital to the plots.
The books have even been translated into Latin and Ancient Greek – a great way to raise interest in the languages and provide modern reading texts. According to the translator (and Wikipedia!) the Ancient Greek version is the longest text written in Ancient Greek since the novels of Heliodorus of Emesa in the 3rd century AD, and took about a year to complete.
In all versions, the high profile status of the books demanded extremely high quality local translation, with some of the original translations being updated when readers complained. Many of the translators involved were already well known and highly respected.
But what a great job!