Monday, 21 September 2015

Gophirith of the Mountains in German

This is big news, though I've already posted it elsewhere before I found the time to make a blog post. I've been working on translating my second "Pelsatia" book, Gophirith of the Mountains, into German recently and it's finally finished now! It's out in print as Gophirith von den Bergen and can be bought on Lulu:

I'm a link! Click me to view the book!

It's only available as a standard paperback book so far (no "value" edition and no ebook yet), but the rest will eventually follow.

The whole project was certainly an interesting experience. German is my mother tongue, but I prefer to write in English, not just because it's more widely spoken but also because I'm more used to it these days. Taking my own English writing and translating it into my mother language didn't seem like it should be difficult at all, but it turned out to be surprisingly challenging at parts. It wasn't as much work as writing a completely new story, of course, but it's quite frustrating how often one comes across something that simply cannot be translated "as is" and needs some more natural-sounding workaround. I am thinking this kind of thing is probably the biggest difficult about translation anything into any language and most likely to trip up people who don't speak the language natively.

On a fun linguistic note, as can be observed in the end result (and as I kept noticing again and again with every paragraph I had to translate), German writing is a bit longer than English writing. I believe a lot of people are aware of that and I've heard exorbitant percentages to which German is allegedly longer, but it's actually not that extreme; the book ended up with 272 instead of 244 pages, including a blank one at the end, so that's slightly over 10%. However, the German version actually uses fewer individual words than the English one, and not by a small margin; over 500 words have been cut. This was a trait of the German language compared to English that I had suspected already, but it's nice to have confirmation of it.

I knew right when I started that the most daunting task would be the songs; luckily, there's only two of them in this particular book. I've seen some book translations handle songs and poems in a rather unrestrained manner, the more extreme cases being more akin to writing a new work of poetry altogether that simply covers the same topics. I tried to avoid this and keep as close to the originals as possible while retaining the rhymes and metre. This proved to be rather tricky and I'm not sure if it was a good idea. The end result may be a bit stilted as it's visibly trying to imitate the English version. I may or may not come up with something different if I ever translate something like this again, but right now, I'm just glad I don't have those on my to-do list anymore!

Something I had some fun with were the translations for names. The personal names largely remained the same, the rest didn't necessarily. Some translations were obvious, others not so much. Sometimes I may have gotten a bit too creative with "germanising" things. Great Ephiana became Großephianien instead of Groß-Ephiana, imitating German place names more closely. Raurack became Rasselbock, which is ironic as the name used in the English version is already a German name of the creature, but it's the Austrian one. Muckleweald gave me trouble and ended up as Michelwald; I'm not quite sure in how far any equivalent to muckle/michel actually exists in proper German, but Carroux kept the Michel in Michel Delving in her German translation of The Lord of the Rings, so why not? Muscaliet became Glühmaus, which I'm really proud of; although the muscaliet has an entry in a mediaeval bestiary, there is no "proper" translation of it into German and no explanation of the name I could find, thus I went and derived the most likely etymology myself; mus is mouse in Latin, the caliet part is most likely related to calere, meaning "to be hot" or "to glow". Glühmaus means, quite simply, "mouse that is hot/glows", which I am guessing is the intended meaning of muscaliet. Hurra!

As you may have seen on the book's Lulu page already (and if you haven't, now may be the time to click the link above!), I've also redesigned the cover since the original had a custom title that was in English and I didn't want to redraw that. This was a fairly quick job compared to the original cover, but I think it looks quite neat. It's coincidentally more reminiscent of the cover I made for Ssalia and the Dragons of Avienot, which I didn't notice until after I made it. Instead of green, it's predominantly purple, which is a prominent colour in the book. This was totally intentional. The title isn't custom, but it has a neat Photoshop layer effect.

Anyway, I hope you've enjoyed this quick look into my experience with translating Gophirith of the Mountains and I also hope you'll check it out! If you buy it together with the English version, you could even learn something about the language by comparing them (hint, hint!).

Oh, and speaking of that, the book is back in print in English as well! I put out a revised edition after I temporarily retired it due to my first editing job having been rather shoddy. The links to it haven't changed, so just look on my website!