Fanmail Q&A: Why does it take so long to translate the book?

Greatings Mr. Rothfuss,

My name is Daniella, and I´m a big fan of yours although i´ve only read The name of the wind wich brings me to my question, why does it takes so long that the wise man”s fear is published in spanish?

you see, I´m from México, and my english is not all that well, so, I can´t read it in english, besides, I think a book is more enjoyable in your own native language, anyway, all I want is to be able to read it I hope it comes out soon please Mr. Rothfuss do not forget your Spanish-speaking fans.

Daniella, I’m sorry to say that I don’t know when my book will be out in Mexico.

I know it sounds silly to say, but I don’t know the exact dates my books are published in a lot of countries. The Wise Man’s Fear is being translated into about 30 languages, and I don’t keep track of them all very closely. I only know it’s coming out in Spain on November 3rd because it says so at the end of the trailer I posted up last week.

But I’ll tell you what. I’ll look into it, and I’ll see if I can get an estimated time of publication for book two in all the different countries, then I’ll post it up here in the blog, link it in the FAQ, and update it whenever I get news from some of my publishers.

Sound fair?

In the meantime, Mondadori, my Spanish publisher, has set up a page for the book in… well… Spanish. It could be the information you’re looking for is over there.

As for your second question… well, you’re not the only one who is curious about that.

Pat,

I am one of your many fans in Spain and I am perishing out of waiting for your book. I love the first one! Can you please say when the second does come out in my country?

I would read your English copy but my English is not enough to read your book. Why must the translating be so long?

I know it is a big book. But it is months now. I know, it is not so long. But I am 17, and it seems a long time for me.

Would you please answer me back? Please?

Maria,

Maria and Daniella and dozens of others have e-mailed me, asking this question.

So here we go.

There are several reasons it’s taking a long time to The Wise Man’s Fear.

  • Translating things is really hard.

I’ve talked about this in a previous blog, but it really bears repeating.

So I repeat. Translating things is really hard.

  • The Wise Man’s Fear is very, very long.

Obscenely long. Almost 400,000 words long.

How long is 400,000 words?

Well, if you mashed together the first three Harry Potter books, then threw in The Hunger Games, too. It still would still be less than 400,000 words long.

Yeah. The Wise Man’s Fear is long. Really, really, long.

  • My books are a pain in the ass to translate.

Why? Well….

1. My names.

Names are important things. And real names, names that actually exist in the world, don’t make a lot of literal sense. This is because real names tend to accrete and evolve over time.

I work hard to create real-seeming names for things in my world. Names that give a strong impression without actually saying anything. Names like Mincet lane, and Cricklet, and Downings.

These real-seeming (but in reality made-up) names sound really good in English, but they’re a huge pain to translate.

2. I have an odd turn of phrase.

If you haven’t noticed, I tend to make a lot of anormal word usements.

Take, for example, the very first page of the book when I say, “It was the patient, cut-flower sound of a man who is waiting to die.”

How do you translate that?

It’s the sort of thing that, if taken literally, makes absolutely no sense at all. Flowers, with rare exception, do not make sound. Sounds are not sentient, so they can’t be patient.

Stuff like this is a bitch to translate.

3. I rely heavily on implication in my writing.

Or, to put it another way, I try to imply more than I explain.

I do this intentionally, as I believe it makes for a more engaging reading experience. While he’s narrating, Kvothe rarely says something clear-cut and expository like, “Wilem obviously thought I was a fucking idiot.”

Instead, Kvothe describes what Wilem says and does. Maybe Wil makes a sarcastic comment. Maybe he looks disproving. Maybe he raises an eyebrow.

If I do my job right, it should be abundantly clear what Wil thinks of Kvothe. Best of all, it has more of an effect on the reader because you see it and know it for yourself, rather than having it poked down your throat by a narrator.

But it’s a delicate thing. And it’s hard to translate.

Because  I’m aware that my book is a pain in the ass. I try to make myself available to the translators. Since I have over thirty, I’ve set up a forum where they can all come, ask questions, and read the answers that I’ve posted up in the past.

Last night, for example, I answered about 20 new question on there. So far, there’s about 300 question-and-answer threads. The FAQ we’ve compiled is more than 60 pages long.

Here’s an example of the sort of thing that comes up fairly regularly in the forum:
[Fair warning: What follows involves a discussion of some minor events very early on in book two. There’s really nothing spoilerish in there. Nothing is given away. But still, if you haven’t read it yet, and you’re an absolute non-spoiler purist, I thought I’d warn you.]

*     *     *

Dear Pat:

In the middle of page 47, during the exchange between Kvothe and Kellin, it reads:

“Outside his field of vision, Denna rolled her eyes at me.”

Just a few lines below, you can find:

“You’re too kind,” I said, and gave her a much more earnest bow than the one I had given to Kellin. She rolled her eyes at me this time.”

That made me wonder if, in the first sentence, maybe it was meant to be “Denna rolled her eyes at him” instead.

Thanks,

Gab

_____________________

Gab,

Ah. This is just an issue of ambiguity in the language.

In the first line, the “at me” means that she rolled her eyes with the intention of Kvothe seeing her do it.

In the second line, “at me” means “because of me” AND that she had the intention of Kvothe seeing her do it.

I didn’t abbreviate the first use to “Outside his field of vision, Denna rolled her eyes.” Because the implication there is that Denna is just being bitchy at Kellin and Kvothe sees it accidentally. That implies that Denna really doesn’t like Kellin and she’s hiding it from Kellin.

But “Outside his field of vision, Denna rolled her eyes at me.” makes it clear that Denna is doing this for Kvothe’s benefit. The interaction is between Kvothe and Denna. She’s effectively engaging in clandestine communication with Kvothe, saying, in effect, “Yeah, he’s full of himself. But what are you going to do?”

Technically, she’s rolling her eyes *at* Kellin *to* Kvothe. But that reads so poorly that it almost doesn’t make any sense.

Does that help?

pat

_____________________

Yes, it does, thank you.

I’ll try to use two different prepositions or to reword one of the sentences a bit to reflect this.

Thanks,

Gab

*     *     *

Now on the surface, this might seem like a small thing. But it has fairly big implications.

It’s just a small piece of body language. And it can be clarified with a different preposition or two. Just a couple words.

(A couple words out of the 400,000 you need to translate the whole book, mind you.)

But if it’s done wrong, the whole scene takes on a different feel.

Written one way, Denna is sharing a private joke with Kvothe. It shows a connection between them.

What’s more, it shows that Denna knows the guy is a bit of an ass, but it’s not that big a deal. Since she’s making fun of it, it’s obviously nothing too serious. It shows that Denna has her eyes open, and, ultimately, that she’s in control of the situation.

Lastly, it shows her relationship with Kvothe is much more intimate than with this other guy. First, because she’s engaging in some clandestine communication with Kvothe. But more importantly, when Kvothe is a bit of an ass and she rolls her eyes at him, she lets Kvothe see it. That shows that she trusts Kvothe more than she trusts Kellin. She’s teasing him, and it shows that she considers Kvothe a friend.

(Did I mention the whole implication thing? That I kinda do a lot of it? Yeah.)

If the scene is written the other way: if Denna rolls her eyes at Kellin and Kvothe just happens to see it, that’s an entirely different type of interaction.

That implies that Denna really doesn’t like Kellin. It shows Denna being passive-aggressive and implies that she’s two-faced and spiteful.

Even worse, it could imply that Denna is afraid of Kellin. That, in turn, implies a whole lot. If Denna is on the arm of a rich man that she hates and fears, that paints a really horrible picture of her life.

Witness the double edged sword of implication. When it works, it’s great. But it can go dangerously astray at times.

And, of course, all of this is made ten times more important because this is Denna’s first scene in the book. The impression she makes on the reader now will carry forward through the whole book.

And you know what I just realized? Now that I think of it. All of the important things Denna communicates in that first scene are done non-verbally.

So what’s your point, Rothfuss?

I said it before, and I’ll say it again.

Translation is tricky.

pat

P.S. Signings in MI, this weekend. Just in case you hadn’t heard.

This entry was posted in naming, the craft of writing, The difference between 'slim' and 'slender', the man behind the curtain, translationBy Pat85 Responses

85 Comments

  1. CancerKiller
    Posted August 26, 2011 at 8:35 AM | Permalink

    This is what I love about your Blog, Pat. These insights into your writing are great. It makes the published works so much more interesting. Having read the first two books, I am really looking forward to the 3rd.

  2. Jsherry
    Posted August 26, 2011 at 8:38 AM | Permalink

    The Monty Python Holy Grail DVD (the 2 disc version) has an extra consistimg of 2 scenes captioned in English to accompany Japanese dubbing, using the Japanese, rather than the original script, for the basis of the subtitles. The “Knights who say ‘Ni’ gets translated as something like “The Knights who say the nonsense syllable.”

  3. Posted August 26, 2011 at 8:47 AM | Permalink

    I’ve read The Name of the Wind, fist in Spanish, then in English, and I think that the translation is *absolutely wonderful*. Gemma Rovira has done a great job; if there’s something lost in a name or a set phrase, she can recover it on the way a character speaks…
    So, waiting so long for the book is a pain, but I think it’s worth it ^^

    • Posted August 26, 2011 at 9:28 AM | Permalink

      Gemma is one of my favorite translators. She asks a lot of really good questions, so I know she really cares….

    • Faire
      Posted August 26, 2011 at 2:24 PM | Permalink

      I went the other way around -first went English, then Spanish- and have to agree with you about the translation being quite good except in one point: names. It really bothers me, because I love names, and their translation in Spanish doesn’t feel quite right, you know? They don’t feel consistent through the novel – at times getting translated for no apparent reason, as with the scrael, and at times not, as with sleeping herbs – and sometimes they don’t even sound right.

      Say, the Waystone Inn. First line in the book. It gets translated as ‘Posada Roca de Guía’, which is quite alright, fine, except that it sounds… weird. Clicky. It could just as well have taken an ellipsis and become ‘Posada Rocaguía’, which would have kept its meaning while a) flowing way more easily, b) keeping true to the original sort-of-ellipsis in ‘Waystone’, and c) ringing truer to Spanish toponyms. Just think of all those old little villages in Spain, and how ‘Valle de la Grana’ became ‘Valdelagrana’ or ‘Villa del Alón’ became ‘Villalón’.

      But Pat’s written about names already. Enough from me =)

      Also, the ‘three times’ thing. The way it’s rarely translated really, really buggers me, because it’s one of my favourite little details in the original books. First time I read the book in Spanish? When I got to page, I don’t know, fifty or so, and Kvothe told Bast to listen carefully (‘escucha atentamente’) instead of listening three times (which could have been translated as ‘escucha tres veces’ without it sounding weird at all) I almost stopped reading there and then.

      Lord, re-reading the above I can only think that everyone’s a critic. But anyways. Apart from that? The Spanish translation flows quite nicely, so yeah, I’ll keep on considering it a job well done =)

      • Posted August 26, 2011 at 4:36 PM | Permalink

        Well, that’s a reason I haven’t read WMF yet: I want the Spanish translation first, because after reading the original… it won’t be the same xD
        About Waystone I prefer “Roca de Guía”, but it’s my appreciation. That’s a proof translating is very difficult!
        And about listen three times specifically , I think it would sound a bit strange if you translate it literally, but well… “Tuan volgen oketh ama” and don’t put a spoon on your eye over it XD

        But I have a question: at the beginning, when Kvothe and Bast talk about Folly. Kvothe says where did you put it? and I understand that Bast hid the sword under his bed, while in Spanish says ¿dónde la pondrías? which I interpret as “where would you put it?”, like asking for opinion… I don’t know, maybe my English is not as good as I used to thought xD

        November, come soon! ;)

        • Faire
          Posted August 27, 2011 at 3:31 AM | Permalink

          I actually prefer ‘Piedraguía’ myself =P And indeed it’s difficult!

          Yeah, that bit with the sword buggered me too. It ought to be something along the lines of ‘¿Dónde la has puesto?’ instead of inventing the conditional tense – I really can’t see the reason for this change, but I’m sure there has to be one! =S

          Along those lines, as a fellow Spaniard born and bred, what’s your opinion on the translation of ‘Folly’ as ‘Delirio’? Because. It doesn’t roll well with me. The name doesn’t have the same connotations, even though it’s a very Wordreference translation… =D

      • Erzberger
        Posted August 27, 2011 at 1:11 AM | Permalink

        The translation of scrael to escrael actually makes sense. There´s no spanish word that can begin with “sc” or “sp” (as far as I know). That´s why it´s Espana and not Spana, even though in all foreign languages it starts with “Sp” (Spain).
        Other example: School. It´s escuela, not scuela.

        • Faire
          Posted August 27, 2011 at 3:25 AM | Permalink

          Agreed, if only the translation was to escrael. Except it’s not – it’s to escral (at least in my book!) Which, considering Spanish phonetics and evolution from Latin makes sense too. Still, my complaint there wasn’t about it being translated – it was about translations not being consistent through the book, sometimes happening and sometimes not. But hey, it’s just a personal folly.

          Still, as someone puts very rightly up there… Tuan volgen oketh ama =P

          • Erzberger
            Posted August 29, 2011 at 12:20 AM | Permalink

            Hmm, I just chekced my spanish book and you´re right, of course. It´s escral.

            I can see how that is weird. I think it would bug me too a bit (I just started reading it in spanish, since I want to learn the language) that some names are converted into spanish sounding names and some still sound english (like “Jake”).

      • huoxingren
        Posted August 29, 2011 at 2:52 PM | Permalink

        Well, “escucha tres veces” does sound weird to me…

  4. Hecuba
    Posted August 26, 2011 at 8:49 AM | Permalink

    Wow. As a daughter of a journalist/translator, I really appreciate this blog. The trouble is, no matter how good and conscientious a translator is, some of the implications will be lost – and most people just bitch at what you did wrong, rather than praising the parts you got right…

    Thank you for the untranslatable (i.e. brilliant, funny, beautiful, rich in meaning) books and this blog! :-)

    • Posted August 28, 2011 at 9:04 AM | Permalink

      I agree wholeheartedly!

      I’m an aspiring translator, i.e. currently studying language, culture and translation at a tiny University in Germany and every time I tell people what I’m studying, they’re like “You can study that!? I wasn’t aware. I mean, what do you do in class? Look up the vocabulary in a dictionary and write it down? I could do that!” And that just pisses me off!

      [RANT ALERT!]

      Of course a word-to-word translation is easy, but that’s NOT what translators are doing. They have to translate the MEANING of a word in a specific context, which usually does not correspond to it’s standard dictionary translation at all. There are specific connotations attached to almost every word, which can relate to each country’s history or the ethnic or social background of the narrator or, or, or. There are colloquialisms, proverbs, rhetorical devices in general and just try and translate dialect! And all the while you have to mind the author’s writing style, paying attention to coherence and of course spelling and whatnot. And the really crappy thing is, when you’ve put so much time and effort in each word, in each turn of phrase, people complain about you taking “so long”. I, personally, have spent hours just trying to translate one single, lousy sentence, to get it just right. Sometimes it’s just nuances, but those nuances make all the difference. -Pat certainly knows what I’m talking about. And I kinda think that translators, in a way, have to be authors as well. They have to be aware of the effect words can have and it’s their job to elicit the same, intended response from every reader, no matter what country they’re from.
      From what I can tell, WMF is being translated by superb tranlators (the German version is outstanding!) and people should appreciate the hard work and time that go into recreating Kvothe’s words and world and making them sound and look exactly like they’re supposed to. Sigh.

      Okay, rant over, I’m exhausted now.

      Just one more thing:
      Thanks, Pat, for supporting and understanding your translators. Maybe, one day, I’ll join the ranks. (Wow, that thought scared me out of my wits…) I’ll definitely share your blog with my fellow students. They’ll appreciate it just as much as I did.

      Cheers,

      Sabrina

  5. Geekgirl
    Posted August 26, 2011 at 8:50 AM | Permalink

    I love that you remain so invested in your creations.
    I love that the translators have an open door to you so that your non-English -speaking audience gets to experience the book the same way we have.

    And I enjoy these insights into the business of book-writing. There is so much more to it than sitting in front of a computer and spitting out words. Hopefully your (sometimes not so patient) readers will get a better understanding why things take time to reach perfection.

  6. Posted August 26, 2011 at 8:53 AM | Permalink

    Hey Pat,

    Does it ever make you nervous or sick to your stomach that you can’t really ever know how well the translations are actually done?

    I’m sure you get feedback on the translations, but I think it must hurt to not be able to read those yourself, you know, just to be sure.

    Nick

    • Tungil
      Posted August 26, 2011 at 10:01 AM | Permalink

      Same question appeared to me… You(Pat) so much time on every single word in the book(s) and can’t really “check” if it’s well done in (all) other languages… Must be a pain in the ass!?

  7. Posted August 26, 2011 at 9:08 AM | Permalink

    In my head, you have a HUGE 200 inch screen in your house, with 30 realtime timelines showing how many pages are translated for each book, the lines colored in the flag colors of the country!

    No?

    Disappointed.

  8. Olalla
    Posted August 26, 2011 at 9:19 AM | Permalink

    As a Spanish student of Translation and Interpretation I have to say that, no matter how easy it may seem at first, translating a book is always difficult. There are many aspects of the author’s writing style that the translator has to take into consideration such as the phrasing or the word choice that are vital to the final result of the translation since one single word can alterate the whole meaning of a sentence. In my opinion, when dealing with a translation of a good book, patience is a virtue because if they rushed the process, they would probably lose the harmony of the original version. Besides, after having read The Wise Man’s Fear in English I can only say that, even though I’d love to work on its translation, I can’t help but feel a little sorry for the translator.

  9. Posted August 26, 2011 at 9:20 AM | Permalink

    Well, translations are a tricky business, especially in literature genres such as fantasy and science fiction, where, sometimes, you practically have to invent words and concepts in your language…
    I’ve been looking forward for the greek one (yeap, I’m still on about that, lol) cause it is SUCH a great read for young audiences and it really bugs me that I can’t have a copy in our school’s library for the students.

    But hey, wanting to read the originals is what got me to become proficient in languages!! So, the devious ploy to get people to learn English better and faster, is uncovered now!! :-PPPPPPPPPPP

  10. Egeo
    Posted August 26, 2011 at 9:24 AM | Permalink

    I must admit I have had bad experience with translations. Im brazilian, i speak and read in three different languages and started reading fairly early in my highschool years. A lot of books are very ill translated, a Metamorphosis version of Kafka comes to mind… A book imo loses its rythm once translated, its like an accent on a spoken language or the flow of it, so to me, nothing beats the original! Nowadays we have so many means of aquiring books ( in the original language), either ordering from online stores, phisical or digital copies, sometimes you can even find them in your local stores …So i say go for it. Read the original, exercise your mind !

  11. morgana1724
    Posted August 26, 2011 at 9:57 AM | Permalink

    I don’t know. I found that quite engaging, made me laugh =) I hope the “Wilem obviously thought I was a fucking idiot” makes it to the yet-to-be-named Third Day.

    By the way, as a Spanish speaker, I was really impressed by how well they pronounced the name in that book announcement you posted recently (made me feel bad that it still sounds like “Kovoz” in my head when I read the books).

  12. Sharat B.
    Posted August 26, 2011 at 9:57 AM | Permalink

    Damn! It would be great for us readers, and certainly keep us occupied for however long Book 3 takes, if you were to explain little scenes like this every now.and again… :)

    Just a humble suggestion, and unbounded admiration for you as a writer. You inspire me in my quest to write an awesome fantasy tale!

    • Posted August 26, 2011 at 6:43 PM | Permalink

      I’ll probably share a few more of these snippets as time goes on. Some of them are kinda interesting….

      • Gesepp
        Posted August 26, 2011 at 8:11 PM | Permalink

        This entry and the one you linked are by far my favorite posts of yours . I would rather read one of these a month than one about onesies every day.

        That forum is not public, is it?

  13. Tungil
    Posted August 26, 2011 at 9:58 AM | Permalink

    Thanks for the figurative explanation!
    The german translation by Jochen Schwarzer is so excellent that a friend of mine refuses to read the book in english, because he fears not getting all of your wonderful hints and implications, it’s the best written book I ever read (german as well as english ;) )! :)

    • Tungil
      Posted August 26, 2011 at 10:02 AM | Permalink

      Just forgot to say, I would almost kill to get (read)access to the translator-forum. . .
      Oh wait! I probably would kill . . . . ^^”

      • TangentialMind
        Posted August 26, 2011 at 1:05 PM | Permalink

        Ooooh me too, it would be so interesting to read about all that translation! Seriously mister Rothfuss, it would be like a dream!

  14. Widow Of Sirius
    Posted August 26, 2011 at 10:46 AM | Permalink

    Wilem was a good example for thinking Kvothe was a fucking idiot. I get that impression from him a lot :)

    This was a great insight, and a really good way to illustrate the underlying issues. I actually might steal this blog post for a lesson in my writing class this semester…

  15. Wousje
    Posted August 26, 2011 at 11:17 AM | Permalink

    Due to the long waiting for books to be translated I started reading in my books in English. My tip, just start with reading Harry Potter in English. the reading level rises with each book. The more you read in English, the better it gets. I only read Dutch books when the writer isn’t English! also, translations (especially in fantasy novels) really bugs me since I started reading in English.

  16. itsjusthim
    Posted August 26, 2011 at 12:14 PM | Permalink

    Even such a very short excerpt makes me want to reread the books! You’re an amazing writer, and thanks for taking the time to communicate like this with your fans.

    Spanish speaking fans; it’s worth the wait! I’ve resigned myself to waiting for the last book without complaining because I appreciate the time that goes into making these books the best they can be! Hell it might be worth working on the beautiful jumblefuck that is the English language just to be able to read the last book when it comes out!

    • Posted August 26, 2011 at 6:44 PM | Permalink

      Jumblefuck is a good word.

    • The Wise Mans Fear
      Posted August 29, 2011 at 2:02 AM | Permalink

      HOLY CRAP that’s a good word, I like it definitely describes what the english language is; a beautiful jumberfuck ;)

  17. JoeLlama
    Posted August 26, 2011 at 12:45 PM | Permalink

    Wow, that was a surprisingly awesome post. I came to read it (’cause I read all of Pat’s blogs), but since I’m a native English speaker, I wasn’t expecting it to be too relevant to me. The window into the writing and translating world was extremely cool, thanks for posting!

  18. nimorphi
    Posted August 26, 2011 at 1:00 PM | Permalink

    has anyone else ever looked at a book that translated Shakespeare from back in the day English to modern layman’s English? They usually have one page be the original and the other side as the translated page. The original is flowing poetry and the modern is like reading a brick wall written by a fourth grader and is painful to get through and that is translating the same language onto itself.

    • huoxingren
      Posted August 29, 2011 at 3:00 PM | Permalink

      Shakespeare was not a translator, was he? Being a translator is not just a matter of speaking two languages.

  19. TangentialMind
    Posted August 26, 2011 at 1:07 PM | Permalink

    Thanks so much for the insight and thank you for the time it took to make this blog!

  20. tracytheta
    Posted August 26, 2011 at 1:21 PM | Permalink

    This blog entry needs to be translated for full impact. :)

    • Posted August 26, 2011 at 6:45 PM | Permalink

      Heh. I was thinking the same thing as I wrote it.

      • Fernanda
        Posted January 31, 2014 at 12:12 AM | Permalink

        I’d love to translate your entries to spanish if you so wish.

    • Erzberger
      Posted August 27, 2011 at 1:47 AM | Permalink

      I tried translating the first part of the blog in German for fun. It´s about 400 words of fairly easy to translate text. It took me 30 minutes. So, for 400000 words (of easy text, mind you), that would be 30000 minutes or 500 hours. So even if I worked 8 hours every day, including weekends, (and 8 hours is impossible, there´s no way anyone can keep up this level of concentration for 8 hours), it would take me 62 and a half days to translate 400000 words. Throw in spell checks, test readings, the difficulty of the given text and the limits of human brains to keep working at high concentration levels and you´re easily at 9-12 months…

      Anyway, for full impact here´s part of the blog in German:

      Fanpost Frage & Antwort: Warum dauert die Übersetzung des Buches so lange?

      Guten Tag Herr Rothfuss,

      mein Name ist Daniella und ich bin ein großer Fan von Ihnen, obwohl ich bislang nur Der Name Des Windes gelesen habe, was mich zu meiner Frage bringt. Warum dauert es so lange The Wise Man´s Fear in spanisch zu veröffentlichen?

      Sehen Sie, ich komme aus Mexiko und mein Englisch ist nicht allzu gut, daher kann ich es nicht auf englisch lesen. Ausserdem finde ich, dass es sowieso angenehmer ist ein Buch in seiner Muttersprache zu lesen. Ich möchte es einfach gerne lesen können. Ich hoffe es komt bald raus, bitte Herr Rothfuss, vergessen Sie Ihre spanisch sprechenden Fans nicht.

      Daniella, es tut mir leid, aber ich weiß nicht wann mein Buch in Mexiko draussen ist.

      Ich weiß es klingt komisch das so zu sagen, aber ich kenne in vielen Ländern nicht das genaue Veröffentlichungsdatum. The Wise Mans Fear wird in etwa 30 Sprachen übersetzt und ich habe da nicht dauernd ein Auge drauf. Ich weiß nur deshalb, dass es in Spanien am 3.November herauskommt, weil es so am Ende des Trailers, den ich letzte Woche gepostet habe, sagt.

      Aber ich sag dir, was ich tue. Ich überprüfe das mal, und gucke, ob ich ein vorraustliches Veröffentlichungsdatum für Buch 2 in allen Ländern bekommen kann, dann poste ich es hier im Blog, verlinke es mit dem FAQ und werde es erneuern, wann immer ich Neuigkeiten von meinen Verlagen bekomme.

      Klingt das fair?

      In der Zwischenzeit hat Mondadori, mein spanischer Verlag, eine Homepage für das Buch in… nunja… spanisch aufgebaut. Es könnte sein, dass die Information, die du suchst, dort zu finden ist.

      Was deine zweite Frage betrifft… tja, du bist nicht die einzige, die deshalb neugierig ist.

      Pat,

      Ich bin einer deiner vielen Fans in Spanien und ich vergehe vor Warten auf dein Bcuh. I liebe das erste! Kannst du mir bitte sagen, wann das zweite in meinem Land rauskommt?

      Ich würde deine englische Kopie lesen, aber mein englische ist nicht genug, um dein Buch zu lesen. Warum muss die Übersetzung so lange dauern?

      Ich weiß, dass es ein großes Buch ist. Aber das geht nun schon Monate so. Ich weiß, das ist nicht so lang. Aber ich bin 17 und es wirkt wie eine lange Zeit auf mich.

      Kannst du mir antworten? Bitte?

      Maria

      Maria und Daniella und dutzende andere haben mir gemailt und mir diese Frage gestellt.

      Also, los gehts.

      • Erzberger
        Posted August 27, 2011 at 1:50 AM | Permalink

        And of course, I have already found several errors in my translation. Shows you what 30 minutes are worth.

  21. Lanre
    Posted August 26, 2011 at 1:45 PM | Permalink

    I wonder how many translators threw their pens in despair when they got to “he has the feck of twenty men.”

    • Oatmeal
      Posted August 27, 2011 at 2:06 AM | Permalink

      Thank you. My mild irritated throat and cough became a full blown coughing spasm upon reading this. So worth it just for seeing the scene in my mind, translators all over the world reading that page and throwing the book and or their pens (which for some reason in my mind are quills, even though we all know they’re probably using their computers like normal people) across the room and shouting in their native languages.

    • Jam
      Posted August 27, 2011 at 6:02 AM | Permalink

      Hah my absolute favourite Rothfuss sentence!! I completely agree Oatmeal. So much respect for translators! Unbounded respect for the rare and endangered quill toting translator

    • Erzberger
      Posted August 29, 2011 at 12:23 AM | Permalink

      I didn´t read “pens” at first, but an ever so slightly longer word…

    • The Wise Mans Fear
      Posted August 29, 2011 at 2:07 AM | Permalink

      when i read that i pictured it and it made me laugh soooo much. If i were a translator i would be honour to be able to translate one of pats books but im actually to lazy to aha…

    • petrus90
      Posted January 30, 2014 at 6:33 PM | Permalink

      Could You tell me please, what do this bloody feck means?

  22. Moonlight-Rose
    Posted August 26, 2011 at 1:56 PM | Permalink

    Now that makes me happy – even though I never exactly thought about it, I just exactly got what you meant when I read it the first time!
    So I have to say: You are the master of implication – even for people who aren’t native english speakers it’s quite clear!

    Thanks a lot for the look in your writing head btw! :D

    I have to say though – that the few pages I read into the German version seemed really good! But Klett Cotta (the publisher) is known for exellent books and translaters after all! And they take their fair time with translating – they simply parted TWMF into 2 books…
    400,000 words are easily enaough for that trick ;)

  23. Robothell
    Posted August 26, 2011 at 2:04 PM | Permalink

    And this is exactly the reason I nowadays prefer to read everything in it’s original language if I can. I remember the first time I tried reading a book in English (not a practice book made for learning, or simplified or anything) and just being blown away by the complete change in tone, and how many puns I’d missed. It was the fifth Harry Potter book unless I’m mistaken.

    I think the way Felurian speaks for example must be pretty much impossible to translate. ;)

    And that’s yet another thing I absolutely love in this trilogy, the absolute mastery of these subtleties of the language and attention to detail. Clearly worth the wait :p

  24. aussiegrl14
    Posted August 26, 2011 at 2:10 PM | Permalink

    Hmm, reminds me of a long-standing debate some especially nerdy family members have had concerning the Asterix comics. My uncle maintains that the only way they should be read is in the original French, where there are apparently “triple puns” and other fancy literary maneuvers. My dad says, better to have the books at all with the double puns that made it into English!

    Awesome insight into the writing process, and I’m now rather proud I noticed your habit of implying character’s actions before you said it here!

  25. erikharrison
    Posted August 26, 2011 at 2:55 PM | Permalink

    From the Babelfish blog post: I think “wheelbarrow king of sleep” might be my new title.

  26. priscellie
    Posted August 26, 2011 at 4:07 PM | Permalink

    This rich, multi-layered density is one of the many reasons I adore your books. You say so much with so few words, and then you rinse and repeat 300,000 times. (This is a reason I’d never ask to be one of your betas! I wouldn’t want my first experience of your new material to be in anything but the final, polished state. :D)

    I appreciate your detailed explanation of Denna’s actions here, as it reminds me to try to utilize the same economy and depth in my own writing.

  27. sumigo
    Posted August 26, 2011 at 4:18 PM | Permalink

    Hey Pat,

    Off topic here. When are you doing the World Builder auctions? I have some things I would like to donate.

  28. AlanAdams23
    Posted August 26, 2011 at 4:32 PM | Permalink

    I love things lost in translation. I forget the language, but KFC’s old “Finger Lickin’ Good!” slogan translates to “It makes you suck your fingers”. Genius.

  29. caveolina
    Posted August 26, 2011 at 5:11 PM | Permalink

    Dear Pat,

    I really have to make a big compliment for your german translator.

    He really managed to conserve the “flow” in your language and sometimes (I read book one in both languages) I love the german version more than the original, but surely due to my bad english ;)) Especially the description of the silence. “die dreistimmige Stille” is such a wounderful expression. Lovely!

    And Pat, by the way. Since reading it threetimes and discussing it with my husband didn´t solve my question: the episode with Denna and the drug dependent dragon in book 1, does it have any deeper meaning than just maikng us smile?

    yours,

    Caveolina

    • Oatmeal
      Posted August 27, 2011 at 2:11 AM | Permalink

      I think that scene has a lot to offer us. It’s one of the first times we seen Kvothe and Denna away from everyone they know, and they can just be themselves. It’s a great bonding experience, and we learn things about Denna that we wouldn’t have otherwise known due to her being babbly from the drug. It’s one of the first times Kvothe saves her, and decidedly not the last.

      I have to read again, but I remember really liking a lot of things about those scenes.

  30. Full-time Joke
    Posted August 26, 2011 at 5:32 PM | Permalink

    Awesome insight, Pat. I can’t read another language but I still learned a lot from that post, thanks. :) This is why your blog is my 1st stop anytime I hop on the internet. Me = “Is there an update!? Is there an update!? Yes! A new post!”

  31. AO_22
    Posted August 26, 2011 at 5:43 PM | Permalink

    It’s posts like these that make it obvious why we need a KKC Companion Book (or two or three), with lots of author insights and explanations. Sandman had a nice Companion Book, which I quite enjoyed, and I’d love to add one for your books as well. I think that it would be especially invaluable.

  32. Mojojojo449
    Posted August 26, 2011 at 6:29 PM | Permalink

    This is why you are my favorite writer

  33. Posted August 26, 2011 at 7:22 PM | Permalink

    Great post. This isn’t something I’ve ever really thought about before – not the translation part, that I have because I’ve wanted to do it myself – the nonverbal stuff that gives the reader more information than the strait text does. For example, the little scene you describe above – I believe I interpreted it correctly during the first read through (can’t be definite now that I’ve read your interpretation of it) but never consciously noted that I was getting information from that kind of thing.

    You sneaky author you!

    This post also makes me wonder if you have been following along with the Name of the Wind re-read over at tor.com. I’ve been having a blast following all the different interpretations and theories.

  34. Pekeh
    Posted August 26, 2011 at 7:41 PM | Permalink

    For all the inpatient Spanish fans recently I found a great translation of the first 40 chapters , it’s a fan translation but I think it’s well translated, if you want to read it make me know. My email is alexperaz715@hotmail.com . I love the wise man’s fear, I can’t wait and I’m reading it in English I love it more than the first one I hope in the story there is a 4th day. Mr Patrick you are doing a fantastic job with these books, if you want the translation of those 40 first chapters I can post them in a PDF , its all I have found.

  35. pakap
    Posted August 26, 2011 at 8:47 PM | Permalink

    Oh, man. I’m currently studying to be a translator (indeed, I’m currently sort-of-working for your French editors, Bragelonne…although I have yet to read the French translations of your books). Thanks a million for talking about translators, we tend to get overlooked so often…hope I get to translate authors like you some day :)

  36. dannylopuz
    Posted August 26, 2011 at 9:00 PM | Permalink

    Thanks for taking time for us, your Mexican fans! I really hope you can come over here on your tour, it would be so cool to meet you.
    To Daniella, the book comes out on November!

    Daniela! El libro sale en Nobiembre! :)
    btw, I can totally translate for you, Pat, anytime!

  37. katelyn
    Posted August 27, 2011 at 12:14 AM | Permalink

    This was fantastic! Thanks Pat!

    For my undergrad thesis a few years ago I did a translation of a 16th century Spanish manuscript that was written by underground Muslims during the Spanish Inquisition. The story is surprisingly both religious and secular, serious and quirky, reverent and blasphemous (it’s a version of the birth/life of Jesus Christ). Not to mention the archaic language. Needless to say, it was freaking hard to translate!

    (It seems like a lot of people who have commented so far are interested in translation… I’m nothing even close to an expert, but if anyone wants to read my thesis, just google “aljamiado nacimiento de jesus.” Should be the first thing on the list.)

  38. MissTahir..
    Posted August 27, 2011 at 11:05 AM | Permalink

    No wonder why it takes 4 damn years to write the whole thing (referring to the translations)! A newbie to the Kingkiller chronicle. LOVE IT <3

  39. pitroig
    Posted August 27, 2011 at 1:19 PM | Permalink

    Before anything else, I have to agree with the first poster, posts like this are what makes this blog so fun and interesting. Thank you, Pat, for this blog and the geeky talk (almost as much as for the book… almost ;)

    I’m from Spain too, and I respect those who love to read the books in spanish (my girls friend, for example doesn’t know enough english to enjoy a seamless read in anything else than spanish or catalan).

    But, even if the translation is good enough, I really encourage you to try to read the books in english. They aren’t just good, they are beautiful. You are missing a lot of word play and sweet secret details (or well veiled winks at character relationships or future events) that, sometimes, get lost in the translations.
    That’s not anyone’s fault, it’s just… something always change when you re-phrase a story. You are reading Pat&Gemma’s book in spanish.

    That’s not bad, it’s very good in fact, but it’s not -exactly- the original story.

    I’m not sure I make any sense at all, but if you know enough english I strongly encourage you to try it in english. Even if it’s alfter you read it first in spanish.

    Hop-hop!!

    • pitroig
      Posted August 27, 2011 at 1:21 PM | Permalink

      doh! it’s girlfriend* not “girls friend”

      sigh

    • Darak
      Posted September 8, 2011 at 8:40 AM | Permalink

      I’ll reply to your comment quoting Borges:

      “El original es infiel a la traducción”
      (“The original is not faithful to the translation”)

      Indeed, a genius :-)

      Gab

  40. M.Lodin
    Posted August 27, 2011 at 5:23 PM | Permalink

    This entry made me register an account to share my thoughts on the swedish translation..

    While reading the original version i was constantly thinking: what could this word possibly paralell in Swedish? And Ylva Spångberg often surprised me with very nice translations. Like shamblemen! In swedish “hasare”. “Hasa” is swedish for like.. moving something without lifting it, slowly and heavy. Or getting behind in a group that walks together. Nicely associated to something a bit creepy, while still not a “real” word.

    On the other hand there was some tricky ones, like “bustling efficency”.. like in the way Kvote and Bast handles the Waystone during a busy night. “Bustling” just cant be translated with the same amount of energy-level and still be valued as a positive word. All words in swedish with that amount of energy related to them are implying stress or unwanted noise. After thinking, I decided to go for “myllrande” which is mostly used to describe ants in a nest. She went for “jäktad” which relates to a mental image of stress. That made me just a little sad and shattered my image of Bast and Kvote being.. just busy and efficient. Not put down by the work but glad of being needed, doing a good job and being efficient.

    Well.. it could be a harder book – it could be pratchett!

    • Posted August 30, 2011 at 5:52 PM | Permalink

      It’s so awesome to hear people caring about/paying attention to a translator’s creativity. :) Though I understand most readers don’t have your advantage of being fluent in both the original language and another one. Still, I’m sure Ylva really appreciates that you noticed the “hasare” and appreciated it. :)

      Also, it’s fascinating that all Swedish words associated with a high level of energy/work have a negative/stressful vibe to them. That says a lot about the Swedish culture, doesn’t it? I don’t know an awful lot about Scandinavia/Nordic countries (aside from the fact that you guys have some AWESOME symphonic metal bands) but I did get the impression that people move at a more relaxed but still productive pace.

      Also, I learned on an episode of Anthony Bourdain’s travel show that the Swedish treasure the idea of “lagom” (having enough/not too much?) which doesn’t really have an English equivalent. Reveals a pretty interesting contrast in our cultures, huh? I so want to visit Sweden and Finland someday…

  41. M.Lodin
    Posted August 27, 2011 at 5:25 PM | Permalink

    Yeah.. umm.. youre also very welcome to sweden. To sign books. If you want to..

    • Pandora
      Posted August 30, 2011 at 6:34 AM | Permalink

      I see what you mean about the dificulty of translation. You can turn a sentence just to the opposite. I think that’s what happened in this one: (first book, ch 8, spanish translation):

      “Mis maestros eran acróbatas y actores, y es asombroso que NO COGIERA
      manía a las lecciones, como les pasa a la mayoría de los niños.”

      Which means it is amazing he didn’t grew to dread lessons with those kind of teachers. And as I understood it the original said quite the opposite. That it wasn’t strange that he didn’t dread lessons. Is it right?

      Doble negation=affirmation in english. But not in spanish.

      The original:
      “With acrobats and actors as my teachers, it is little wonder that I never grew to dread lessons as most children do.”

  42. TommyTelephone
    Posted August 30, 2011 at 4:48 PM | Permalink

    Pat,

    This is very interesting. Thanks for the insight.

    As you illustrate ambiguity in the language, it comes to mind cultural diversity in non-verbal expression. That can really cause a problem.

    Many years ago, when I was younger and even more stupid, I was doing a sales pitch in Sri Lanka. The technology I was selling was pretty advanced, but it wasn’t magic. I was having a really hard time dealing with the fact that everyone in the room was shaking their heads.

    Duh.

    I actually said a few times, “Really, it is the truth!”

  43. Posted August 30, 2011 at 5:53 PM | Permalink

    Pat, if getting a peek at your amazingly broad heart and loving soul through your books wasn’t enough of a clue, your understanding and appreciation of how difficult (and often largely thankless) a translator’s job is makes you absolutely tops in my book. I often recommend good books to friends, but in your case, I pimp your awesomeness as a human being on top of your books’ awesomeness.

    And now, I learn you’ve gone so far as to open a forum for your translators to ask questions without feeling like idiots or like they’re bothering you…! My awe is redoubled yet again. And then retripled (is that a word?) when I saw all the surprised comments from your readers, realizing just how big a job translation is for perhaps the first time. You have done all the translators of the world such an amazing good turn with this post… Thank you so much!

  44. thesissy
    Posted September 1, 2011 at 3:25 PM | Permalink

    Pat, I really appreciate this post.
    I’m about to translate WMF into Danish – NOTW was translated by another translator, but apparently he’s not available for vol. two, so I’ve been signed up for the task. If the publishers don’t change their mind about it, that is. For some months it’s looked as if they were going to leave it at vol.one and didn’t want to publish two (and three, for that matter)… Which would be so wrong.
    Translating this book is indeed very hard work, but it’s a challenge I’m looking forward to indulge in!

  45. spikeehead
    Posted September 5, 2011 at 7:08 AM | Permalink

    Is it the goal of the translator to make the story sound like it occurred in, say, Japan, or, Spain, with the world of Kvothe experienced by Japanese or Spanish speakers? The discussions about names and nuances suggest it.

  46. Darak
    Posted September 8, 2011 at 8:29 AM | Permalink

    Pat, I concur on everything you wrote ;-)
    BTW, the Italian edition of “The Wise Man’s Fear” was published the 1st of September.
    Bye,
    Gab

  47. Posted October 6, 2011 at 12:15 PM | Permalink

    This started out as a post on translation, but ended up as subtlety in writing. As a result, I learned/relearned some things without feeling taught.

    In other words, the post applied the principles it promoted. Thanks for that.

  48. chat
    Posted February 25, 2012 at 1:41 PM | Permalink

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