Monday, 11 March 2013

A new King of Thorns cover...

So... I should perhaps have counted to 1000 before blogging on this the first time :D

Here are my previously blogged thoughts about the business of translation.

& here is my Italian cover for King of Thorns. I was surprised to see a lightning-wreathed crossbow on it. A move that reflects the change of title to 'King of Lightning'.




Here's my quick shot at 'lightning effect' + original cover.




14 comments:

  1. Do they not have thorns in those countries?

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  2. When it comes to translating book titles, I understand why that is done. I'm Norwegian, and a direct translation of Prince of Thorns in Norwegian would be "Torneprinsen" or "Prinsen av torner", both titles SUCK in Norwegian in my honest opinion. (If I was to guess from those titles, I'd say it was a children's book.) And I for one would not look twice at a book with one of those titles, unless I was already familiar with the author's name.
    Translation can generally be difficult, and lots of good English titles sound awful in other languages. And that works the other way too, I've seen Norwegian books who's had their titles changed for English translation, and it doesn't always seem to make sense.
    I honestly think you should trust your foreign publishers when it comes to translations of the title. Hopefully they know what they are doing, and the change will benefit you in the end.

    When it comes to covers...I've seen much worse on translated SFF here in Norway. (Although they usually use the US or UK covers these days.)

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    1. See... I don't get that. Not even a little bit. How can Prince of Thorns suck as a title in Norwegian and not in English? It's exactly the same thing... isn't it? If you said it sucked in both - fine. But it's just A of B. Thorns... they're thorns. We have them here you have them there. How is it bad in Norwegian? Why is it childish there but not here? More to the point _how_ is it childish there?

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    2. It may be exactly the same thing, but the impression it gives is a completely different one. Prince of Thorns sounds good in English, it evokes something special. When it is translated it loses that evocation, and just sounds clunky. If you translate "X of Y" directly into Norwegian, as "X av Y", it will usually end up sounding clunky. In fact, it most often sounds like a lazy/bad translation. This goes for many English expressions, and titles, translated into Norwegian. (It also works the other way.)

      As for childish, that's easy to explain. "Sleeping Beauty" in Norwegian is "Tornerose" [literally: Thornrose], and just as anyone in the US/UK would be familiar with (at least) the Disney version, so would any Norwegian. "Torneprinsen" would most likely make people think of the prince in Sleeping Beauty here in Norway. -Of course that is completely unfair to the title of your book, but that is how it is.

      I know it can be hard for someone who doesn't speak more than one language fluently to understand these things (, which is why I commented in the first place). But direct translations will very often lose more of the authors intent than a careful rewriting. -And I have read lazily translated books in Norwegian where I've had to translate it back into English to make sense of what the author actually meant.
      Basically, what sounds good in one language, may not sound good in another language.

      You can even run the risk of a direct translation being slang for something. A good example there is in Denmark, almost every bakery will advertise "ferskt morgenbrød hver dag" [fresh morning bread each day]. In Norwegian "morrabrød" [in itself a slang way of writing "morgenbrød"], is slang for "morning wood"...not something a bakery will advertise.
      (Note: Modern Norwegian comes from Danish, so every Norwegian will be capable of reading approximately 80-90% of it.)

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    3. I take your point to a degree.

      I do wonder though if there's some misapprehension that 'Prince of Thorns' is some kind of UK colloquialism that they're not getting, or has some special reasonance or reference point to the UK readership that needs refocusing... because it isn't and it doesn't. It's a direct reference to content and needs to be preserved in some strong way.

      In the books the price who is pulled from the thorns is called on several occasions Prince of Thorns... will the translation say:hello prince, I'm calling you Prince of Lightning because we found you in the thorns? :)

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  3. As an Italian Citizen I would like to sincerely apologise for the shitty translation. The shitty artistic representation of the book cover is, if anything, even more of a monstrosity... you would hope that they had (at the very least) read the book before drawing it up... If it was my book I'd be fuming too.

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  4. Yeah, I'm Italian too. Maybe it could be reassuring that this is hardly the exception. The publishing industry in Italy is a total disaster and you'd hardly get a better treatment with a different publisher.

    To not even mention the translation itself. I've not read it, but every book I happen to pick up is a disaster, and not even limited to genre fiction. I recently saw one of David Foster Wallace book and in the 2nd page they translated "cows" with "crows". It made absolutely no sense in that context, but it tells how perfunctory it was translated.

    Another famous example is that scene in ASOIAF right at the beginning where the Stark find a direwolf killed by the horn of a stag. In Italian the translator decided that a stag wasn't "fantasy" enough and promptly replaced it with an unicorn.

    Unicorns are better than stags, right?

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    1. that's pretty funny!

      GRRM must have been pleased...

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  5. I'm totally with you on this. I would think you would have the right to reject such blatantly wrong titles on YOUR work!

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  6. I can see the titles you mentioned working well enough in a pinch, with the exception of King of Lightning. That's just bizarre and bears to relation to anything in the book. My guess would be that it's an attempt to leapfrog off another popular series with a lightning theme - maybe Percy Jackson.

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  7. Weirdmage is quite right and you know it as well, literal translations often suck or have a quite different meaning and connotation in another language. This said, I don't get the Prince of Lightning either. Prince of Darkness - Prinz der Dunkelheit in German is not THAT bad, it's actually quite appropriate, believe me. Prinz der Dornen wouldn't have sounded nearly as good. It's actually one of the few examples where the title didn't get totally mangled! For example the titles of that Abercrombie dude you might know ;) where much harder to translate and the result is questionable.

    Regarding covers, it's like that with translations, at least in Germany and maybe Italy as well: The translator usually doesn't even get asked for a suggestion/translation for the title, the publisher does that. Regarding the cover, the first German Song of Ice and Fire translations had some random covers, at least a wolf was on one of them. Covers are often quite expensive to buy so others get used. But guess where the Song of Ice and Fire covers re-appeared? On the German translation of Lois McMaster-Bujold's Chalion novels. http://www.amazon.de/Chalions-Fluch-Chalion-McMaster-Bujold/dp/3404204867/ - take a look, the woman to the left is supposedly Melisandre. I dunno if this was an UK or US cover, by now almost every Song of Ice and Fire novel has Sean Bean on it. :)

    P.S. you have a really awesome German translator with Andreas Brandhorst.

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  8. The Skinned Prince.....where can I get that book? ;)

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    1. Here http://www.amazon.fr/LEmpire-Brise-T1-Prince-Ecorche/dp/2352945720/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1328982986&sr=1-1

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  9. A butchering, simple as that. I expected it, though. I am Italian born and bred, and was stupid enough to read The Lord of the Rings in Italian. You have no idea what they did to it, suffice to say that the poor Professor rhytmn, sounds and poetry surely never made it south the Alps. Jorg himself would rate it as a crime, probably.... Anyway, I've got a name if you need a good translator (not me). gaia

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