Terry Pratchett

Ghost In The Machine

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Josh Kirby's cover art was what attracted me to read them in the first place. In the late 80s I saw a paperback of The Colour of Magic on my art teacher's desk with the strapline 'Jerome K. Jerome meets The Lord of the Rings'.

I think his pictures are fantastic.
Yes, it's really subjective, eh? We got a couple of illustrators in the family, and they're always on about this stuff. I found that art really off-putting - for reasons I can't really articulate - but I know people love them, and dislike the more recent covers. Somebody I know who has always enjoyed stuff I write, didn't buy one of my books because they said the cover art was "too grim". The book was about grim stuff! With a grim title. And obviously about deeply grim things. Made me laugh - you can't win em all. And I get it.

I've been messaging with an illustrator this week who has done a fair bit of cover art in her time and I love her work. Had one of her prints on my wall for nearly 20 years and couldn't read the signature so only just stumbled on the original online, and realised who she is. Had to message her just to say how much I love her art. It can really change how (potential) readers feel - think we underestimate the power of cover art, often!
 

AnonyJoolz

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I'm lucky to live rather close to a place that has been twinned with Ankh-Morpork, has several streets named after places in his books and is also home to the only 'official' Discworld Emporium/Ankh-Morpork Consulate (said merchants had a gorgeous marmalade cat who was - maybe - the manager in disguise, but who normally was seen snoozing in the shop window á la Bagpuss).

discworld-emporium.jpg


Sir Terry had honorary Somerset citizenship and we occasionally saw him around and about prior to his last illness. Even if you weren't a fan of his writing, he's generally missed by us.
 
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Ghost In The Machine

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I'm lucky to live rather close to a place that has been twinned with Ankh-Morpork, has several streets named after places in his books and is also home to the only 'official' Discworld Emporium/Ankh-Morpork Consulate (said merchants had a gorgeous marmalade cat who was - maybe - the manager in disguise, but who normally was seen snoozing in the shop window á la Bagpuss).

View attachment 34328

Sir Terry had honorary Somerset citizenship and we occasionally saw him around and about prior to his last illness. Even if you weren't a fan of his writing, he's generally missed by us.
Love that. So nice to know his memory is treasured, where he lived.
 

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Yes, it's really subjective, eh? We got a couple of illustrators in the family, and they're always on about this stuff. I found that art really off-putting - for reasons I can't really articulate - but I know people love them, and dislike the more recent covers. Somebody I know who has always enjoyed stuff I write, didn't buy one of my books because they said the cover art was "too grim". The book was about grim stuff! With a grim title. And obviously about deeply grim things. Made me laugh - you can't win em all. And I get it.

I've been messaging with an illustrator this week who has done a fair bit of cover art in her time and I love her work. Had one of her prints on my wall for nearly 20 years and couldn't read the signature so only just stumbled on the original online, and realised who she is. Had to message her just to say how much I love her art. It can really change how (potential) readers feel - think we underestimate the power of cover art, often!
Many moons ago I was at my grandparents' and reading Pratchett's Wyrd Sisters. My Gran asked me what I was reading, so hoping for a convert, I passed her the book. She took one look at the Josh Kirby cover and started wailing, I might as well have taken a dump on the carpet. She was horrified at the sight of his artwork. So, er, no, not everyone liked his stuff.
 

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From The Discworld Companion (1994).

The Language Barrier: It's all Klatchian to Me

The Discworld books are translated into eighteen languages, including Japanese and Hebrew. They present astonishing pitfalls for the translator.

The problems are not (just) the puns, of which there are rather fewer than people imagine. In any case, puns are translatable; they might not be directly translatable, but the Discworld translators have to be adept at filleting an English pun from the text and replacing it with one that works in German or Spanish. What can loom in front of a translator like the proverbial radio on the edge of the bathtub of the future are the resonances and references.

Take Hogswatchnight, the Discworld winter festival. It's partly a pun on hog but also takes in 'Hogmanay' and the old Christian `Watch Night service on 31 December. Even if people don't directly spot this, it subconsciously inherits the feel of a midwinter festival.

Or there's the Morris Minor. To a Britisher 'an old lady who drives a Morris Minor' — and there's still a few of both around — is instantly recognisable as a 'type'. You could probably even have a stab at how many cats she has. What's the Finnish equivalent? The German equivalent?

Translators in the science fiction and fantasy field have an extra problem. SF in particular is dominated by the English — or at least the American — language. Fans in mainland European and Scandinavian countries must read in English if they're to keep up with the field. This means that a foreign translator is working under the eyes of readers who're often buying the book to see how it compares with the English version they already have.

Ruurd Groot has the daunting task of translating not only the plot but also the jokes in the Discworld series into Dutch. Translating a pun is difficult but not impossible, he says, as long as it is a pun in the strict ‘linguistic’ sense: making fun by crossing the semantic and formal wires of words or expressions. And even when it proves impossible to invent an. equivalent pun for the destination language, a deft translator may solve the problem by ‘compensating’ — introducing a pun for another word somewhere else in the sentence in such a way that the value of the original pun is restored.

Strangely, the similarity of the English and Dutch languages is not always helpful. Many Dutch words and expressions have been borrowed from English and, of course, the same thing has happened in reverse, especially i in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries; the English word ‘forlorn’, , for example, comes from the Dutch verloren = ‘lost’. The side effect of this circumstance is that many Dutch readers of Terry’s original English text do not always catch what he really wrote; words may look familiar, but meanings have changed with time.

In The Colour of Magic, Terry refers to the ‘Big Bang hypothesis’. Sadly for Ruurd, the erotic Bang-pun proved untranslatable. In Dutch, the theory translates as oerknal, which provides no hand-holds. However, they do refer to het uitdijend heelal — ‘the expanding universe’. Ruurd altered this slightly to the het Uitvrijend Model — sounding much the same — and which could be taken to mean ‘the Making Love Outwards Model’. When the author heard this he apparently sat there grinning and saying it’s the best-ever title for a scientific theory.

Much more difficult is the translation of jokes on local traditions or institutions well known to English readers. And there are special considerations here. Dutch readers of some sophistication (as readers of TP tend to be, it goes without saying) would never accept substituting a reference to a Dutch television series for a similar reference to a BBC serial.

Brits may blithely assume that everyone knows about morris dancing or ‘A’ levels, but it is the experience of the Dutch that most foreigners’ knowledge of their country tends to run. out somewhere south of the cheese, clogs and windmills department. Strangely enough, to a Dutch reader a reference to strictly Dutch ephemera would be jarring; they couldn’t imagine someone in Britain, let alone on the Discworld, being aware of them. Sad but true.

Translators for ‘large’ nationalities - German, French, and so on — can maintain the fiction that everyone else is German or French and just localize the jokes in question. ‘Small’ nationalities have to replace little items of English/British arcana by references to globally known international, or more famous English, items. On the Discworld, that most international, or rather interstellar, of locations, strictly English or British references are allowed in a Dutch translation only if they are globally known — like the works of Shakespeare in Wyrd Sisters.

Ruurd could rely on the fact that many Dutch people. know: Shakespeare, if only from television — played by British actors and subtitled in Dutch. But in Moving Pictures, problems.for the translator exceeded all reasonable proportions. The films referred to in the book are well enough known,but the average Dutch reader might not recognize many of the translated quotations from the dialogue.

In that case, he says, a translator can-rely on a harmless version of snob appeal. If someone doesn’t know or recognize something, the translator can write in a tone as.if anyone reading it of course will know all and... it turns out that they do ...

IK WEET-NIET WAT JIJ ERVAN VINDT, MAAR EEN BORD ROTTI ZOU ER WEL INGAAN

This is the closest that Ruurd could. get to Death’s line from Mort: ‘I DON’T KNOW ABOUT. YOU, BUT I COULD MURDER A CURRY.’ A line for line translation here is impossible: a different colonial past means that ‘curry’ is not a household word in Holland. Also ‘I could murder a...’ in the sense of ‘I could really enjoy a...' makes no sense in Dutch.

Casting aside. the avoidance of ‘localized’ Dutch expressions on this occasion, Ruurd opted for ‘rotti’. It is a near-funny word itself; having the same echo of ‘rotten’ as it-would in English. It belongs to the Surinam culinary tradition — Surinam having been. a small Dutch colony in South America. ‘Rotti’, like curry, is very hot stuff. Its mention in the context, with the vague implication that Surinam is cosmically more famous than the Netherlands, helps to replace for Dutch readers some of the fun lost during translation.

Granny Weatherwax, on the other-hand, presents no problems (at least, not yet: as Ruurd says, translators of a series have to try to avoid painting themselves into a corner). Her name translates. more literally into Opoe Esmee Wedersmeer, although Wéerwas. would be more direct. Weder is ye olde form of the word weer, meaning ‘weather’. The smeer part is a word used for greasy substances as applied to shoes or cart axles, but also for the stuff secreted in our ear passages (earwax = oorsmeer). There is an etymological link with the English word ‘smear’. Ruurd felt that the ordinary word in Dutch for ‘wax’ — was — seemed less suitable, as being too ordinary.

'Esmee' is, as in English, short for Esmerelda, and Ope is an obsolete endearing way of addressing grandmothers in Dutch. The term is still used to refer to certain old-fashioned ladies' bike - opoefietsen = 'granny bikes.'

This has overtones of the 'Morris Minor' ... you see? They have one after-all... ---- And finally, while googling, I came across an interesting issue with the french translation of Weatherwax. In French she's translated as "Mémé Circdutemps" a literal, grammatically correct translation. In the English Witches Abroad, Lilith goes by the name "Lilith du Tempscrire" (a grammatically bad translation of Weatherwax). This is a subtle hint to English readers, but if the name was used in the French books it would be a bit on the nose, so in French translations Lilith is known as Lilith Weatherwax.
 

Yithian

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Now, what I was actually looking into when I found that was whether the Anton Lesser narrated version of Small Gods for Radio 4 was good (I've loved his voice since I first heard him as Falco).

Alternatively,
does anybody have input on the respective merits of the audio versions by Nigel Planer and Tony Robinson?
 

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In an update, I suggested the Teenager try "Equal Rites" when she was looking for a new read, and she liked it (and Granny Weatherwax) so much that I pushed her onto "Wyrd Sisters" afterwards. Finally, one of my offspring with whom I can discuss Discworld...
 
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