[DWJ] OT sort of

Gili Bar-Hillel gbhillel at netvision.net.il
Thu Feb 4 02:16:51 EST 2010

Hi Sally,

If I were you, I would ask if there is some way to contact the translator
and discuss these changes. She or he is probably the best person to explain
exactly why the changes were made, and why particular names were chosen
instead. There's a good chance they'd be very pleased for the oppurtunity to
discuss these changes with you.

Keep in mind that that these changes are not always based on personal tastes
only: different countries have different norms and traditions about how to
deal with names in literary texts, changes that seem heavy-handed to you
might be perfectly in keeping with local conventions. The fact that the
names were in French may actually have posed a problem for the French
translator, because sometimes the connotations are just a little bit
different to a native speaker. Sometimes the same name arouses very
different responses in different countries. (An Israeli friend of mine
wanted to give her daughter what she thought was a classic, serene Hebrew
name, Tamara - her German husband shuddered and said it was a loud, cheap
name.) A little knowledge of a language is not enough to get a feel for the
cultural connotations and associations of names.

Whatever the reasoning was behind the choices, I'm willing to bet they were
not random. "Mal" is quite a negative word in French, isn't it? Aqua de
Mere - seawater - seems much more neutral. Stella de Mere - star of the
sea - might very well mean starfish; Lupe de Mere is wolf of the sea, in
Hebrew a sea wolf is type of fish (hake). Conchita sounds like conch. There
may not be a word for "hag" in French (there isn't really one in Hebrew) so
the translator would have to invent something local, and Scottish names
probably mean very little to many French readers.

Speaking only for myself, I always try to put myself in the position of the
author, and imagine what the author would have liked (or at least approved
of)  if the author could speak Hebrew. As a translator, there is nothing I
appreciate more than a direct line to the author so I can consult with them
directly! Otherwise we're on our own, doing our best to pretend we can
predict the preferences of someone we've met only through their writing.


-----Original Message-----
From: dwj-bounces at suberic.net [mailto:dwj-bounces at suberic.net]On Behalf Of
Sally Odgers
Sent: Thursday, February 04, 2010 4:49 AM
To: dwj at suberic.net; devra at aol.com
Subject: [DWJ] OT sort of

I appeal to the list. Do we have any French speakers here? My Little
Horrors series is being translated into French and the character names
are almost all changed. For some deeply surreal reason, the names I
gave my mer family which WERE French have been changed to (unrelated)
Spanish names.

Drum Roll.

Mal de Mer has become Aqua de Mere
Her mother Eau has become Stella
Her father Beau has become Lupe
and her sister Sal has become Conchita.

Flax Lilykicker from the "Flax" book is now Flax

The Scottish water hags, Maggie Nabbie, Auld Anni and Kirsty Breeks,
are now called Grippyne, Ritalyne and Cora Crampe. They are now
sorcieres aquatiques.  I cannot find any meaning for the first two
names, though both sound like patent medicines. Can anyone enlighten me?

ODWJM... um... name/nationality changing (Howl) is a very DWJ subject?
Sally Odgers

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