Harry Potter et la Chambre des Secrets, by JK Rowling

HarryPotterEtLaChambreDesSecretsThe adventures continue for Harry and the gang, en français.

Sigh. This was actually a pretty discouraging read, for two reasons. The first has to do with myself, the second with the translation.

Reading this book, I realized something about my language skills. While I can understand the French that I’m reading, I know there is no way I could write or speak in French at all. There is so much complexity in the grammatical structure. Because I already know what the books say (all those multiple reads of Harry Potter lead to a basic memorization), and I know the French vocabulary, I can read a sentence and restructure it in my head to an order that makes sense to me. Unfortunately, I can’t deconstruct English and put it into French. I’m to an unfortunate age when language no longer comes natural to me. I don’t know if I’ll ever progress any further into my French. I imagine I can get back to a passable level with work, but I don’t know if I can improve anymore. Which is sort of depressing.

As for the translation…it was awful. And I mean AWFUL. It was riddled with errors, from basic copyediting stuff (missing periods, etc) to story errors. For example, when the teachers have to lead the kids around the school, it’s Snape who leads the kids from Herbology to DADA. Um…what? In the real book, it’s Sprout who leads them, which makes sense. It does not make sense to have Snape randomly come into a scene when he’s not part of either class. Other places were like that too, characters who weren’t in the scene would suddenly say something and disappear again. Funny thing is, whoever owned this book before me was obviously annoyed with translation issues too and took to crossing things out and correcting them when it was a glaring error (“Ron said” instead of “Fred said” etc).

There was also huge sections of missing stuff. A full half of Lockhart’s lines were gone. The first hint about Ginny and her diary? Gone completely. Missing stuff all over the place. It wasn’t like the first book, where there were a couple errors and a couple missing sentences. This had whole sections, paragraphs, hints, and concepts deleted. It felt lazy and rushed. Again, I don’t know if it’s because I was reading a mass market paperback rather than a trade, but for whatever reason, I was really disappointed. I’m really hoping the next book will be better. Especially since it’s one of my two favorites in the series!

One really awesome thing about the book: I love what they did for Tom Riddle’s name. He’s named Tom Elvis Jedusor (“jeu du sort”), which rearranges to spell out “Je suis Voldemort.” I love that they found a way not only to translate “Riddle” well but to still anagram the name into close to the same phrase as the original (only leaving out “Lord”). That made me very happy. It also makes me giggle that his Muggle-hating grandfather’s name was Elvis. I can’t think of the name Elvis without thinking of the Elvis, so it just makes me laugh. 😀

Oh! and I wanted to ask my French-speaking readers (I know I don’t have many…), what is the word for “girlfriend” in French? We learned in school that it was petite-amie, and petit-ami for boyfriend, but when I stayed in Bourges for six weeks in 1999, no one had any idea what I was talking about when I used the word. The woman I was staying with had a boyfriend who spent nights with her and she called him her copain. I met a guy from Italy who spoke French and he called his girlfriend his copine. We were taught in school that copain and copine just meant “good friend.” I figured the lessons were just wrong and I started using copain and copine for boyfriend and girlfriend. However, in this book, Percy’s girlfriend is referred to as his petite-amie. What am I missing here??


About Amanda

Writing. Family. Books. Crochet. Fitness. Fashion. Fun. Not necessarily in that order. Note: agender (she/her).
This entry was posted in 2011, Children's, Prose and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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