I’ve never been a huge fan of reading translated books.  For example, Les Miserables.  I always feel that there is a certain thing that is lost when the language is translated…certain meanings of words and even just the cultural inflections.  I understand that translators attempt to preserve all of this, but I just feel like I’m reading the story through a foggy lens – I’m not getting the real thing.  Maybe this is just a misinformed mental block that I made up when I was in High School (as a High Schooler worried about this, I’m sure I was in the minority).  Lots of people love reading works of foreign literature translated into their own language.  I quite enjoyed the Girl With The Dragon Tattoo series, and that was a translation.  I didn’t really think of it being a translation, even, as I enjoyed the story so much.  I guess it comes down to more “literary” works.  But maybe that isn’t even important – maybe I should just focus on the story and the general themes of the story and not so much on the words themselves.  It’s a work of prose, not poetry, and although the language crafting is important, it’s not the whole thing.

I’ve been reading a bit on the internet about translating and even learning a new language.  The website Little Language Site has a great section on translations and how languages have come about in the first place.  It’s been an interesting read and I’m definitely smarter for it.  I’ve been wondering if I even might want to learn a new language.

And then I was reading more articles on translations, and realized this:  since when have you read a recent popular translation of a foreign work of literature?  Probably the Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, but besides that?  How much literature is going unnoticed simply because it’s not being translated into English?  I suppose my earlier point may become invalid – we’re missing out on a lot of cultural ethos because there is no translation for us.  And this is perhaps important to understanding different parts of the world and different views.

I’m going to make a point of seeking out obscure translations of modern fiction.  I’m sure it would be quite interesting and would be a great topic for random conversations.  How could it not make you sound smart and very well rounded to say that you’ve read Russia’s latest bestseller, or Italy’s newest crime novel.