What are words for?

Over the years I’ve become a slower reader, reading a few pages at a time in the morning before I get up, or at night before bed. To my eternal embarrassment, I only discovered @errideluca_ recently, but I’m so glad I did. His writing is some of the most beautiful I’ve read in a long time. There’s a little magical realism in amongst the very real telling of life for an orphan teenager in Naples after WW2. I love it so much that I’m going to read it again in Italian. Because let me tell you, I hate reading books in translation. It’s like asking a friend to recount a story. It’s good, but it’s second hand. The translator makes decisions for the author, and I feel removed from the author.

And this is the reason I decided to learn Romance Languages at uni. During a time when having a HECS (university) debt was cheap, and there were still excellent Humanities courses, I literally studied French, Spanish and Italian, so I could read books in their original language. Is that weird to imagine now? That you would take on a uni debt, not to get a job or career, but so you can read more books? #noregrets. It took around 15 years for me to pay off that debt. And believe it or not, I can still read in French, Spanish and Italian, but I rarely do. In this book, The Day Before Happiness, I’ve read some words that are not convincing. And that’s why I want to reread it in Italian.

When I was at uni, our Spanish class received a guest, a translator who had translated the works of Jorge Luis Borges before and after he died. And he told us about translating a poem with the word “sueño” in the title. My Spanish speaking friends (hello @twobechildfree) will know that this word can have 2 meanings in the same context. Sleep and dream. And mistranslating it will change the meaning. It reminds me of when we studied Camus in French class. There’s a line in Camus’ The Stranger that is badly translated in English, and changes the meaning of a very important sentence.Fuck I love language. I also realise, reading all this back, that I’m such a wanker. Lol.
So yeah, it’s time to start reading books in their original form again. Wish me luck 🤞

 

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