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Reading books in the original language


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I always prefer to read the originals because there's always quite a bit that is lost in the translation...

Do you prefer to read books in it's original language or the translations?

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I only understand Bahasa Indonesia and English. There are heaps of English translated books sold in the bookstore, but they also sell the original book too. I agree with you Peninha, I also prefer the original one. Novels and comics are fine. The more I read them, the more I understand the story. But it gets really confusing when it comes to textbooks no matter how many times I read it ;A;

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I have read plenty of books in English, I actually prefer to read fiction in the native language it was written in, because so many things (coloqulism, cultural references and such) get lost during the translation process and that's something I have never liked (same goes with movies). 

Sadly isn't always possible to read/understand other books write in other languages, but being able to read in English has been so useful so far :)  I read the complete Harry Potter series in English, and it was waaaay better than the Spanish version!  Way better!

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If I could understand it well enough, then I'd almost always opt for the original text the media is presented in whether it be in literature or in films/TV shows. Like you, I am sometimes bothered by what gets lost in translation, and it's why I think some of theses media are worth it to learn a new language for just so you can experience them in their purest form.

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I also like to read the books in their original language and form, but if I don't understand the language, then I have to get some help from its translations, but I don't trust much in all the translations, I check many to make sure whats the correct version.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I always try to read books in their original language, when it is one I can understand.

Th thig is, no matter how good a translator is, something always get lost. Trust me, I'm a translation student :P

No matter how hard you try, even if you catch every reference and every cultural tidbit, an author's style is so much his or her own that it is very hard to imitate, let alone transport to another language.

I actually believe that, if a bilingual author were to try  writing the same book in two languages, the two books would not be good translations of each other.

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LOL, that's true, when it's one we can understand. A translator most of the time considers itself a poet too and so he not only translates, but adapts too, so we end up reading a version more than the original text.

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If I could understand the language, then I'd probably be reading the material in the original language, too. I might even try and make my own translation if translated materials don't exist yet, or even make a comparative analysis.

But even if I couldn't understand the language but could read the characters (unlike in the case of Chinese, Japanese and Korean that I have to study the characters first, too), I think I'd have a lot of fun checking if a certain pronunciation for certain words are correct or not, haha.

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Funny, when I was planning to learn Ancient Greek, I got a copy of Plato in the native tongue, and a few others actually. It certainly feels better reading in the original as a lot of context and meaning is lost, despite the best efforts of translators.

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I agree, it's totally different to read a book in English or it's Portuguese translation. Sure, the main ideas are there, but all the semantics and the context are different. Basically, emotion is lost. If it's a technical book it makes no difference though.

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Yes, I would like to able to read books in the original language it is written in. It is one of the reasons that I study hard to learn languages. Although there are translated texts easily accessible, it is still different when they are written in their original language. Because when you are reading translated texts, it is the interpretation of the translator that is being conveyed and not of the author itself. Sometimes they tell you the same, sometime they do not. Another thing is writing is an art that is very much dependent on the language. It is not only the thoughts that are important, but how they are written, the style. In the translated work, the style of the original writer, his presentation of his ideas is shadowed by that of the translator. The only thing the original writer is credited for is for his thoughts, and not for the beauty and for his talent to effectively and artistically communicate and deliver them, which is somehow unfair.

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For sure. I think I've read so much text in English that I'm starting to have my thoughts in English too. My native tongue is Finnish. It's like It's easier to read in English to me these days. But for sure, there's always something lost in the translation.

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I try my best to read works in their original language, I feel like it's possible to lose a lot of the author's meaning/intent if you're reading it in a different language, since it's been translated. I'm the same way with movies as well. As long as I can somewhat understand, no subtitles or dubbing for me! XD

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i agree with you. the translation may be perfect but i dont think it captures the mood and atmosphere that arises in the book. so if i understand a certain language i'd rather read the book in that language instead of a translation.

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I prefer the original for the subtitles and nuances that can't be adequately conveyed in another language.  Even if it's a language that I'm not completely fluent in, at the very least I want to have the text side-by-side in a bilingual edition so that I can resort to English when needed, but still try my hardest to understand and appreciate the beauty of the original language. 

This is strong motivation for me to keep learning languages, too. :)

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I like to be able to compare them, if I can. So, if the translation has enough footnotes to equal the volume of the text of its own, I'm happy to read all of the translator's reasoning for each and every one of their translation choices! They usually come with some historical or cultural tidbit, too.

There are also some books, the new English translation of the Italian poem by Dante The Divine Comedy for example, where they print the English version next to the Italian version so that they match up line-for-line.

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