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Translations of my books - Comments

Peter Grant's Avatar Comment 1 by Peter Grant

Pity we can't go open source and make a wiki, would probably get a better result than with privately contracted individuals.

Tue, 01 Nov 2011 19:13:10 UTC | #886071

Schrodinger's Cat's Avatar Comment 2 by Schrodinger's Cat

Would you like someone who can translate The God Delusion into Bible Belt Creationese ?

Tue, 01 Nov 2011 19:28:26 UTC | #886078

SomersetJohn's Avatar Comment 3 by SomersetJohn

Comment 2 by Schrodinger's Cat :

Would you like someone who can translate The God Delusion into Bible Belt Creationese ?

Oh 'Cat, I think you just made my brain implode! How about providing a sample chapter, just for the Hades of it.

Tue, 01 Nov 2011 19:36:41 UTC | #886081

Lapithes's Avatar Comment 4 by Lapithes

Comment 2 by Schrodinger's Cat :

Would you like someone who can translate The God Delusion into Bible Belt Creationese ?

Maybe it's easier just to claim on sunday television that Jesus appeared to a Texan and revealed that he doesn't exist.

Tue, 01 Nov 2011 19:40:32 UTC | #886084

Kantian's Avatar Comment 5 by Kantian

Comment 1 by Peter Grant :

Pity we can't go open source and make a wiki, would probably get a better result than with privately contracted individuals.

That would solve the translation problem and might help with "public understand of science".

His formidable adversary William Lane Craig makes most of his significant philosophical ideas available in the public domain. A shame that Professor Dawkins doesn't follow suit.

Tue, 01 Nov 2011 19:42:35 UTC | #886085

Schrodinger's Cat's Avatar Comment 6 by Schrodinger's Cat

Comment 5 by Kantian

His formidable adversary William Lane Craig makes most of his significant philosophical ideas available in the public domain. A shame that Professor Dawkins doesn't follow suit.

Come off it. Dawkins' evolutionary ideas have been widely available in the public domain for decades....as have his arguments for atheism. Nobody who professes to have a grasp of English and who is interested in a sound grasp of the issues can have failed to have heard of Dawkins.

As for William Lane Craig, he's about as 'formidable' as a church doormouse. It consistently annoys me that even as an agnostic.....I could put forward better arguments for morality, meaning, and purpose, than WLC seems capable of. I guess that's because he's a theologian and knows next to nothing about philosophy.

Tue, 01 Nov 2011 20:03:03 UTC | #886093

Ignorant Amos's Avatar Comment 7 by Ignorant Amos

Comment 5 by Kantian

His formidable adversary William Lane Craig makes most of his significant philosophical ideas available in the public domain. A shame that Professor Dawkins doesn't follow suit.

Two problems with your comment, 'formidable adversary', WLC is neither of those in reference to his relationship with RD so why prattle on about it? The other problem, 'significant', WLC rehashes the philosophical ideas of others, his most famous being the KCA. Even in debates he rattles off quotes from the work of others in support of his work, but in a lot of cases, disingenuously. He got caught a cracker when he quoted the friend of Austin Dacey of theCFI when he debated Austin back in 2004. WLC lied by quote mining to make his point and was caught out.

Tue, 01 Nov 2011 20:29:05 UTC | #886102

bachfiend's Avatar Comment 8 by bachfiend

I have 'the God Delusion' in the German translation by Sebastian Vogel, and from memory, the translation was very good. Although, I still reckon the best edition of 'the God Delusion' was the unabridged audiobook read by Richard Dawkins.

Translating does occasionally create problems in getting the exact tone right, even if the meaning is absolutely clear. I remember being very amused by 'I don't give a damn' in 'Gone with the Wind' being rendered in one German translation as the German equivalent of 'I'm quite indifferent to it'.

Tue, 01 Nov 2011 20:45:01 UTC | #886111

Moderator's Avatar Comment 9 by Moderator

Moderators' message

Please stay on topic. If people wish to discuss WLC, there's a thread on the subject here.

Thank you.

The mods

Terms of Use

Tue, 01 Nov 2011 20:48:45 UTC | #886115

debonnesnouvelles's Avatar Comment 10 by debonnesnouvelles

I never bothered with the German and French versions of your books, but now I will.

By the way, it would be absolutely wonderful to have translations of The Magic of Reality into my languages too. I want to give a copy of it to every child I know, but unless I can hand it out in German and French to my different young relatives, they won't be able to read it. Except for late teenagers who have enough English together to make a start on their own.

Just sayin' ;-)

Tue, 01 Nov 2011 20:56:58 UTC | #886125

JackR's Avatar Comment 11 by JackR

Comment 2 by Schrodinger's Cat :

Would you like someone who can translate The God Delusion into Bible Belt Creationese ?

A bit like this?

Tue, 01 Nov 2011 21:07:17 UTC | #886130

debonnesnouvelles's Avatar Comment 12 by debonnesnouvelles

"What to do about it, and how to avoid the same thing happening in the future?"

I assume that the questionable translations were published in languages where reliable proof readers are hard to come by?

Anyway, there must be a way of inserting a proof reading stage at your end, by people you can trust, into the process of publishing translations of your books. If a translation is found to be lacking in standard, I assume that you could then veto it before the books are printed.

Tue, 01 Nov 2011 21:19:26 UTC | #886134

Cook@Tahiti's Avatar Comment 13 by Cook@Tahiti

Siri does a poor job. Give her the sack.

Tue, 01 Nov 2011 21:57:16 UTC | #886147

Richard Dawkins's Avatar Comment 14 by Richard Dawkins

Comment 12 by debonnesnouvelles :

"What to do about it, and how to avoid the same thing happening in the future?"

I assume that the questionable translations were published in languages where reliable proof readers are hard to come by?

Anyway, there must be a way of inserting a proof reading stage at your end, by people you can trust, into the process of publishing translations of your books. If a translation is found to be lacking in standard, I assume that you could then veto it before the books are printed.

It isn't a question of proofreading. It's a question of the translator having no knowledge or understanding of English idioms. They are translated literally into the destination language, as in the classic joke example, "He gave her a ring" (telephone call) being translated as "He gave her a ring" (to put on her finger). Or – an actual case in a translation of The God Delusion, "You can't say it too often" was translated as the equivalent of "Maybe you [the reader] don't say it too often." Or Douglas Adams's Hitch-hiker's Guide to the Galaxy was rendered, by the same translator, as Guide to the Galaxy written by somebody called Hitch-hiker. Or this, from the same translator: "Goldilocks Zone" is given a footnote " “Goldilock is a european plant, Aster linosyris".

This translator is a bungling incompetent, who is beyond help from proofreaders. In this thread, I am not looking for minor corrections of the proofreading kind. I am looking for evidence of massive incompetence such that the publishers should go back to the drawing board with a completely new translator. This thread is for contributions by native speakers of languages other than English.

Thank you

Richard

Tue, 01 Nov 2011 22:00:04 UTC | #886149

RobertJNW's Avatar Comment 15 by RobertJNW

Hello Richard,

I'm not a native Spanish speaker but I know the language well enough to be disappointed in the translation of the title of The God Delusion. Admittedly, "delusion" seems to be a difficult word to translate into Spanish and the book is known as "El Espejismo de Dios".

An "espejismo" is something like a mirage or an optical illusion, which is not quite the same thing.

Perhaps a native Spanish speaker could comment on this.

The Greatest Show on Earth, in Spanish, is simply titled "Evolución".

Tue, 01 Nov 2011 22:17:11 UTC | #886154

Richard Dawkins's Avatar Comment 16 by Richard Dawkins

I'm not a native Spanish speaker but I know the language well enough to be disappointed in the translation of the title of The God Delusion. Admittedly, "delusion" seems to be a difficult word to translate into Spanish and the book is known as "El Espejismo de Dios".

An "espejismo" is something like a mirage or an optical illusion, which is not quite the same thing.

Perhaps a native Spanish speaker could comment on this.

Yes indeed. A native Spanish speaker friend of mine comments as follows:

There is a problem with the title, because "espejismo" literally is 'mirage', and while is fine for the title, it makes nonsense of your reference to a delusion by an individual being a psychiatric issue. They use espejismo everywhere you use delusion but leave the rest unaltered, so that they say for instance that the dictionary definition for espejismo is…and then they translate literally what you said is the definition of delusion. Anybody can see that what you are then saying is wrong.

This is beyond incompetent translation, it is downright stupidity.

Tue, 01 Nov 2011 22:22:34 UTC | #886159

Richard Dawkins's Avatar Comment 17 by Richard Dawkins

The case of the Spanish translation of The God Delusion is now established beyond reasonable doubt, and steps are being taken. I hope there is nothing so bad in the translations into other languages, but please let me know if there are such cases.

Thank you

Richard

Tue, 01 Nov 2011 22:27:57 UTC | #886162

whenpigsfly's Avatar Comment 18 by whenpigsfly

Comment 16 by Richard Dawkins :

I agree - it would do better titled "El engaño de dios" or "El delirio de dios". I would have thought it relatively easy to find someone competent to translate into Spanish. It is a shame to have got it wrong given the massive numbers of Spanish-speakers in the world who might benefit from these books.

Tue, 01 Nov 2011 22:37:40 UTC | #886168

Richard Dawkins's Avatar Comment 19 by Richard Dawkins

Comment 10 by debonnesnouvelles :

I never bothered with the German and French versions of your books, but now I will.

By the way, it would be absolutely wonderful to have translations of The Magic of Reality into my languages too. I want to give a copy of it to every child I know, but unless I can hand it out in German and French to my different young relatives, they won't be able to read it. Except for late teenagers who have enough English together to make a start on their own.

Just sayin' ;-)

Yes, of course there will be translations of TMOR into all the major languages. My concern in this thread is to find ways to ensure that the translations are good ones.

Tue, 01 Nov 2011 22:44:18 UTC | #886172

A. R's Avatar Comment 20 by A. R

whenpigsfly: I agree, especially considering the harmful dominance of Catholicism in Spanish-speaking nations.

Tue, 01 Nov 2011 22:51:06 UTC | #886175

Byrneo's Avatar Comment 21 by Byrneo

Comment 17 by Richard Dawkins :

The case of the Spanish translation of The God Delusion is now established beyond reasonable doubt, and steps are being taken. I hope there is nothing so bad in the translations into other languages, but please let me know if there are such cases.

Thank you

Richard

Well that's the standard in a criminal case, so time to indict the translator as charged.

On a serious note, certainly this must cause reputation damage to an author. In this case, the use of the word illusion or mirage rather than delusion undermines a critical theme of the book.

At worst it can make the author appear foolish, or intellectually shallow.

Tue, 01 Nov 2011 22:57:54 UTC | #886177

RobertJNW's Avatar Comment 22 by RobertJNW

If you've read "Hitch 22", you'll know all about the humorous effects of wrong titles. Christopher Hitchens' own book "God is not Great" is translated as "God is not Good" in Spanish. What is going on here...? Exactly as he says in his book that "Good Expectations" just isn't the same thing.

Tue, 01 Nov 2011 23:12:44 UTC | #886185

Jason72's Avatar Comment 23 by Jason72

You have to read Richard's books in its original English to truly understand what is written within...

Tue, 01 Nov 2011 23:37:31 UTC | #886197

Sergmaster00's Avatar Comment 24 by Sergmaster00

As a translation student, I understand why such bad translations exist. Simply put, the translator doesn't understand the topic in question (I find most translators don't really like science), while at the same time it's dificult (and somewhat unnecessary) to find a specialist to translate a book for the layman.

What I'd recomend is trying to find a fan of your work who is a translator. That way they would be more motivated to do a good job, rather than doing something fast in order to get paid, and they would grasp the meaning better than somebody else.

Tue, 01 Nov 2011 23:54:29 UTC | #886204

Peter Grant's Avatar Comment 25 by Peter Grant

Sorry to have roused the followers of lame Craig. Want to make it clear that I in no way blame Prof Dawkins for copyright issues, he is as much a victim of the stupid system as the rest of us. I just feel very strongly that the translation of his great works should not be left to inept individuals and publishing corporations who aren't up to the task.

Wed, 02 Nov 2011 00:01:45 UTC | #886209

InYourFaceNewYorker's Avatar Comment 26 by InYourFaceNewYorker

The God Delusion in Hebrew is called Are There Gods?

Wed, 02 Nov 2011 00:51:34 UTC | #886234

quesuerte's Avatar Comment 27 by quesuerte

The Spanish translation by Regina Hernández Weigand is famous for being somewhat dodgy. Not only does it contain a plethora of translation errors, but the grammar is also rather poor.

Wed, 02 Nov 2011 03:09:52 UTC | #886285

quesuerte's Avatar Comment 28 by quesuerte

Here are some of the more amusing translation hiccups:

Richard wrote: The drawing skill, by contrast, is an analogue skill.
Spanish: Por contraste, la habilidad del dibujo es una habilidad análoga.
What it means: The drawing skill, by contrast, is an analogous skill.

Richard wrote: 'fool' (Latin insipiens)
Spanish: 'necio' (del latín insipiens)
What it means: 'fool' (from the Latin insipiens) [neither 'fool' nor the Spanish word 'necio' are related to 'insipiens' at all.]

Richard wrote: 'Oral Roberts University'
Spanish: 'La Universidad Oral de Robert'
What it means: 'The Oral University of Robert'

Richard wrote: sick and tired
Spanish: harto y cansado
What it means: sick and tired and tired

Richard wrote: think of the English words 'maid' and 'maiden'
Spanish: pensemos en las palabras inglesas 'criada' y 'doncella'
What it means: think of the English words 'criada' and 'doncella'

Richard wrote: any ubiquitous feature of a species - such as religion
Spanish: cualquier característica omnipresente en las especies – como la religión
What it means: any ubiquitous feature of life – such as religion ['las especies' refers to all species, so 'life' gives a similar feel to the Spanish]

Wed, 02 Nov 2011 03:10:22 UTC | #886286

modusvivendi's Avatar Comment 29 by modusvivendi

I didn't read the Turkish translation of The God Delusion myself, but I read a lot of reviews of it in the Turkish websites, and there is a huge complaint about the poor quality of the translation.

Wed, 02 Nov 2011 03:26:46 UTC | #886289

calvinchan's Avatar Comment 30 by calvinchan

I haven't read The God Delusion in Chinese, but I remember one translation had the title rendered as "The God Error", and another "The God Myth". Neither seems very fitting, but in terms of being stylistically disappointing, none can beat Hong Kong's translation of Hitchen's God is Not Great: "There is nothing about god that is particularly impressive". Thumbs up for taking out the thunder.

Wed, 02 Nov 2011 04:14:16 UTC | #886295