As I stated last year, this is my least favorite of the Harry Potter books. Thankfully, some of the things that really irritate me, like the repetition of phrases, aren’t anywhere near as noticeable to me when translated into French! But still, this book dragged a lot and as usual made me a little tired of the series. I’ll be taking a few weeks off reading it before I resume with the fifth book.
This is the first book in the series that needed to make huge changes in the text in order to carry out the same ideas as the original. There are so many things that rely on wordplay in here that needed to be changed. For instance, when Harry hears the riddle from the Sphinx and the clues are supposed to add up to “spider,” the riddle had to be changed completely in order to spell out “araignée” instead. It was fascinating to see how the translator dealt with all this and I was actually very impressed. He’s gotten far better at this since those first two books that were missing tons of stuff!
There didn’t seem to be anything missing from this book, though interestingly, there was a lot of text added. There are several places where additions were necessary or useful. In particular, the translator had to get the idea across that though the book is translated into French, the characters are still speaking English, and the students from Beauxbatons have a hard time understanding them (and vice versa). When Madame Maxime arrives, she speaks in a very strange accent that changes the spelling of many of her French words, and she and Dumbledore have a couple of miscommunications that aren’t in the original. For instance, when Madame Maxime asks about her horses (chevaux), her accent comes across as “hair” (“cheveux”), and Dumbledore tells her that her hair is beautifully styled. She laughs and tells him he’s such a joker. There are several interchanges like that, and the same later when Fleur comes over to ask Ron for the bouillabaisse. When he can’t pronounce it, she chides him for not being good at or kind about foreign languages. By doing this, and by adding lots and lots of Rs to all the Bulgarian’s words (“prrrofesseurrr” instead of just “professeur” etc), it comes across that the three schools are speaking three different languages.
Another addition came when Harry is stuck in the staircase and Moody accios the Marauder’s Map. It’s one of those places where you wonder why Harry didn’t think of that, instead of reaching out and trying to wipe the map clean instead. The English text doesn’t address the issue at all, but the French text adds a paragraph where Harry internally smacks himself for being stupid and giving way to panic. It makes the whole section not look like a plot hole and I love it! I wish something like that had been incorporated into the English version as well.
That’s all for this month. I didn’t really improve my French any because, I admit, I did a certain amount of skimming. Of course, it’s kind of cool that I can skim even when the text is in French, but I certainly don’t think it’s terribly helpful for me over time. Thankfully this is the only book in the series that I ever skim!