Jun 10

“Asterix unveils his secrets in English”

The official blog of the famous Belgian comic star, Astrix the Gaul has a fun post about the women who translates the books.

Translator Anthea Bell writes in her New York Sun article:

The great treasure of the Asterix saga is its inventive wordplay, which has forced translators such as me to adapt freely and creatively. Tintin also contains wordplay, but not nearly as much as Asterix, and the volume of Goscinny’s gags increased as time went on. At first he relied heavily on the simple joke that the Romans spoke Latin: On the first page of the first adventure, after a bruising encounter with the Gauls, one legionary declaims, “Vae victis!” However, his concussed friend has perdu son latin, literally “lost his Latin,” but with the colloquial meaning of being “baffled, at a loss.” The Germans use the same expression; we don’t have it in English. “It’s all Greek to me,” a close equivalent, was no use here. It was done with grammatical references in English: “Accidence will happen” and “We decline.” (“Funny way to spell accidents,” a puzzled German student once commented to me.)

Read the rest of the article on the New York Sun website.

On a side note, here is an interview of the couple who translates the Studio Ghibli movies for dubbing in English, Cindy and Don Hewitt.

1 comment

    • Peggy on June 20, 2008 at 2:41 am

    The Asterix books are so punny, I always figured they must have had a very clever translator.

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