[DWJ] Translating DWJ

Gili Bar-Hillel gbhillel at netvision.net.il
Thu Apr 14 13:00:54 EDT 2011


To Sally's initial question, I can only answer, yes, it is extremely tricky
and does require excellent skills in both languages. This is true of all
literary translation, but indeed Diana Wynne Jones is particularly prone to
sticking in all sorts of references that one needs to be able to recognise
and somehow address, as well as playing with many levels of meaning of
language. I should sit down and write about this at length, if I ever regain
my dead braincells.

What's been reported here about the Swedish translations is sometimes done,
that is, heavily editing the text; this used to be standard practice in
Israel up to about the 1970's, and since then there's been more and more
pressure on translators to adhere as closely as possible to the original
text (sometimes to the point of absurdity: this can also be taken too far).
I've been helped enormously by advice from members of this list for all the
Hebrew translations I've been involved in (CHARMED LIFE, THE LIVES OF
CHRISTOPHER CHANT, HOWL'S MOVING CASTLE, ARCHER'S GOON and THE HOMEWARD
BOUNDERS). I find it hard to write about this succintly, I probably have
material for a rather long paper on translating DWJ... but just take the one
example of the title of THE HOMEWARD BOUNDERS. How many different meanings
does BOUNDERS have in this context? Bound as in heading towards a
destination, but also as in being in bondage, but also as in leaping from
world to world, but also as in travelling within boundaries, etc. etc. No
single translation in Hebrew can encompass all of that. I was quite pleased
with our solution, actually, of calling the homeward bounders "מוקצים",
which also has multiple meanings: in religious contexts, it means
untouchable; it also means "alotted" and can be read as meaning "pushed to
the edges". The title of the book in Hebrew was the very last decision we
made before actually printing the covers, and in involved many discussions
and arguments. We finally called it "המהלכים בקצוות" which translated back
into English means "the walkers on the edges", and echoes the word meaning
untouchable/alotted etc. Some shades of meaning are lost, but hopefully we
compensate with other meanings.

For Jenny, here are the translations available in Hebrew:

CHARMED LIFE (חיי קסם), translated by Netta Yedid, Jerusalem: Keter
publishing, 2003
THE LIVES OF CHRISTOPHER CHANT ׁ(תשע הנשמות של כריסטופר צ'אנט), translated
by Netta Yedid, Jerusalem: Keter publishing, 2003
HOWL'S MOVING CASTLE (הטירה הנעה), translated by Gili Bar-Hillel, Jerusalem:
Keter publishing, 2005
WITCH WEEK (שבוע המכשפות), translated by Yael Inbar, Jerusalem: Keter
publishing, 2006
CASTLE IN THE AIR (מגדלים פורחים באוויר), translated by Yael Inbar,
Jerusalem: Keter publishing, 2007
ARCHER'S GOON (הבריון של ארצ'ר), translated by Yael Achmon, Tel Aviv: Graff
Publishing, 2009
THE HOMEWARD BOUNDERS (המהלכים בקצוות), translated by Inbal Saggiv-Nakdimon,
Tel Aviv: Graff Publishing, 2010

and we're currently working on A TALE OF TIME CITY for early summer, also
translated by Inbal Saggiv-Nakdimon.


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