Koran dankon, tradukistoj!

Saint Jerome as painted by Jan van Eyck. Note the lion, a typical translators’ pet.

Today is not only the feast of Saint Jerome, the Church Father who around 400 CE translated most of the Bible into then-colloquial Latin, but it’s also, for that very reason, International Translation Day.

By a beautiful coincidence, it’s on this very day that I’ve received an astonishing bit of news: Lingo, my 2014 book about European languages, is going to be published in a language that even in my wildest and most self-aggrandising secret dreams I wouldn’t have dared hope for; a language spoken by fewer people than live in Wales or Kansas, practically all of whom know yet another language that’s much more widespread. I’m referring to galego, Galician, the close relative of Portuguese that is at home in the Northwestern tip of Spain.

Though a Galician translator hasn’t – as far as I’m aware – been selected yet, this strikes me as an excellent occasion for honouring all the people – a full dozen of them – that have translated my books so far, nearly half of whom I’ve been fortunate enough to meet. Without them, all my books would still be strictly Dutch. Thanks to them, Lingo and Babel have travelled the world, and so have I in their wakes.

For that reason, I’d like to say (with a little help from an inferior non-human translator):
many thanks, Alison Edwards (Dutch to English);
vielen Dank, Juliane Cromme (German);
mille grazie, Carlo Capararo, Giuseppe Maugeri and Cristina Spinoglio (Italian);
非常感謝嚴麗娟 (Yán Lìjuān – Mandarin, traditional script);
tusen takk, Hedda Vormeland (Norwegian);
dziękuję bardzo, Anno Sak (her name is Anna; the o is a case ending);
большое спасибо, Наталья Шахова (Natalie Shahova, in her own spelling – Russian);
muchas gracias, José C. Vales (Spanish);
tack så mycket, Torun Lidfeldt Bager (Swedish);
cảm ơn rât nhiều, Hoàng Đức Long (Vietnamese).
Thanks also to the Arabic, Greek, Korean, Mandarin (simplified script), Romanian, Slovak and of course Galician translators whose names I do not yet know.

The title of this blogpost, in case you wondered, is in Esperanto. It seemed to me an appropriately neutral language to use in this context. Koran, by the way, is not derived from Korano, the holy book of Islam (which is mostly read in the original, not in translation), but means ‘heart-felt’.

2 thoughts on “Koran dankon, tradukistoj!

  1. Congrats!
    I wonder if this translation like others into, say, Icelandic, happens more out of patriotic defiance than for increasing the number of readers.
    Also, if you decline the translator’s name in Polish, why didn’t you do so in Russian as well?

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    • I think you’re right, though perhaps I would call it ‘reasons of identity’ rather than ‘patriotic’. I for no-one do not object to such reasons (irrespective of what it means for my books) as long as people steer clear of fanaticism.
      As for Russian, I don’t think it has a compulsory vocative. The old vocative has disappeared and the new vocative expresses familiarity, or so I understand. If that’s correct, surely the nominative is the best option here.

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