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.: Translations? Nooooo!!! :.


Have you ever figured that those people who cannot read in English have to wait six or seven months (sometimes more!) in order to read the just-released books of Harry Potter? And to make it even worse, they have to face “not-so-well-done” (ok, no euphemisms: BAD) translations? If you haven’t ever thought about that, then it’s time to pity the non-English speakers around the world, because – believe me – they suffer!

Here in Brazil, the woman that is in charge of translating the Harry Potter series to Portuguese is Lia Wyler (I swear, I won’t swear at her during this text!). I, myself, have worked a couple of times as a freelancer translator, and I truly understand that it is hard for her to translate a seven-hundred-page book in six months. If you count, 700 pages transformed into Portuguese in 180 days make approximately 4 pages per day, that is, if you consider working every Saturday and Sunday of half a year. It is a tough job and we all know that. It doesn’t legitimate a poor-quality work, though.

“But, why is it bad?”, you must have been asking to yourself. Well, the first thing that 9 out 10 Brazilian Harry Potter fans complain is: she translates the names of the characters! According to her, the first book of the series, the Philosopher’s Stone, was written to children among the ages of 7 to 12. Children that, she said, wouldn’t be able to cope with the difficulty of reading the English names and understanding the humor within them. It would make sense, if she hadn’t created names that just SHE comprehends, spoiling the originals and making insensible and ridiculous new words.

Want examples? Here they come: Harry’s father, James Potter, in Portuguese became “Tiago Potter”. It is easy to guess what she might have thought about it. In the Brazilian version of the Bible, James was also transformed into Tiago (if anybody knows why, please tell me!), so she decided to keep the same logic. Indeed, it would have been very difficult for our children to pronounce James. Especially for those who have NEVER seen James Bond... which is: none! Another strange translation is the one of the house-elf “Kreacher”, passed to “Monstro”, a word that in Portuguese means “monster”. Please, don’t you think that if Jo wanted to name it “Monster” she WOULD have done that!

There are also some funny examples: “Pigwidgeon”, Ron’s owl, became “Píchitinho” (if you can barely read that, so can I!), a word that means... NOTHING! Yes, just like the “Privet Drive” that we read “Alfeneiros” Street (ok, it’s not “street”, but its Portuguese correspondence “rua”) a word with exactly the same meaning of the former! I could pay some very good money to know what she’d had on mind or what she’d just made when the idea for creating those names came in. Alas, they must have been made on purpose...

What is even more interesting is that, with the prerogative of facilitating the things for the Brazilian children, she often manages to complicate them! The very name of Ron Weasley was changed to “Rony Weasley”, adding a letter that we do not have in our alphabet: the “y”! Why do that? There’s no sensible answer for this question, I guess. (I won’t swear at her, I won’t! Breathe... breathe.)

Obviously, it would be impossible to discuss all the funny (or annoying) inventions of hers. However (and unfortunately) they aren’t the only things we complain about her. Even in the fifth and the sixth books, more serious and complex ones, she keeps writing as seven-year-old people were reading, which sometimes seems too silly. Not to mention that in the first book, Professor Sprout was a man (she corrected the mistake in the other ones) and Draco Malfoy had his name spelled as “Drago” (also post-corrected). It looks like she doesn’t read what she writes!

What was most commented, though, was the apparently “lapse” she had while working on the translation of “Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince”. In page 327 of the Brazilian version – which is the page 391 of the British one – she made Ron call Harry as... Jerry!!!! Yes, you read right, she’s changed the name of the main character! If you don’t want to call it an absurd, at least agree that it shows a lack of respect and hard-(good)-working of hers and of all the editors involved in the work (all right, I swore at her! It was stronger than me). Is it thorny to keep only one translator doing the job? Then hire a group of people to do that. We’d appreciate it.

I want to let it clear that my intention is not to denigrate Lia Wyler’s job. Who am I to do that? I just want to let people know what the Brazilians face after a long and desperate wait for the books in Portuguese. My intention is also not to poke fun at HER, but at all the bloopers and weird creations she’s been doing. In addition, I’ve just showed you, who are lucky enough to read the books in the language of J. K. Rowling, that you must thank God for this fact. On the other hand, you don’t have as many stories to tell as we have! Whether this is good or not you decide, though...

Okay, I stay here. Remember that: if you’ve got any funny and interesting stories about the Harry Potter saga in your country, send me an e-mail that I’ll be glad to tell your story here. See you in the next editorial and like we say here in Brazil after waving goodbye: “Hugs”!


Bruno Miquelino.
bruno@thesnitch.co.uk

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