Aliette de Bodard has a fascinating article, Traduttore, Traditore: translations, languages and cultures – on translations and culture, as the title suggests – over at SF Novelists blog.
As someone who writes in one language (English), lives in another (French) on a day-to-day basis, and has some knowledge of a few others (fairly good Spanish, and notions of Vietnamese and Mandarin), I’m always interested in the matter of translating from one language to another.
Translation can seem a bit of a dry exercise better left to interprets and specialists–but in fantasy or science fiction, we are always translating the language of our imagined societies. The inhabitants of Middle Earth did not speak English; and while some of the people in SF novels might speak a form of English, it’s highly unlikely that it would still be the English that we know: languages evolve and mutate, and the English of Shakepeare’s plays, which dates back only five centuries, is already not quite the one we speak today. Language is always deeply linked to culture, and its features can reveal much about the way a society functions. – read the rest of the article.
On behalf of the WSB, we’d like to offer congratulations to Aliette for just recently selling French-language rights for all three books in her dark fantasy/alternative history/Aztec Noir trilogy Obsidian and Blood. Congratulations, Aliette!