Tuesday 22 September 2009

Dan Brown in English/Dan Brown in German

It seems the Germans have bought so many copies of the new Dan Brown - in English - that it's soared to number two in the fiction charts. This is an odd phenomenon but not the first time it's happened, with various Harry Potter books following the same pattern. It seems to be generally considered better to go for the original of easy-reading top-sellers like this, as you have a time advantage AND you can show off about your fantastic English skills. In fact I was recently annoyed at a party by someone telling me how many times he'd read The Lord of the Rings in English - five times - and in German - only four.

A lot of even small bookshops have a tiny section of English books hidden away in a corner, usually an unimaginative selection of film tie-ins, chick-lit and thrillers.

The German Dan Brown translation entitled Das verlorene Symbol comes out precisely 29 days after the original, raising a couple of questions - like how on earth did they do that so quickly? The publishers are revealing all on a special website, which includes this video about the translation process. To sum up, there are six translators and they have ten days to translate a total of 780 pages. They got the manuscript and got stuck in without reading the book beforehand. And they start work at six in the morning. Amazingly, the two you see in the video look fairly unflustered.

But by 14 October when the end product comes out, anyone who is anyone will have read the original anyway, so why bother investing time in a good translation?

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