How Harry Potter Was Translated into Yiddish

J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series is available in over 80 languages, including Latin and Gaelic. Two years ago, Yiddish enthusiasts, funded in part by a Swedish government program to promote minority languages, launched an effort to render the entire series into that endangered language.

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It proved to be a great challenge because the translators had to find ways of rendering Rowling’s word plays in ways that were both faithful to the authorial intent but also meaningful in Yiddish. Tablet magazine describes their efforts:

But Rowling didn’t just coin names, she coined many magical terms and concepts, and each of these required its own Yiddish rendering. Translating Quidditch, the fictional aerial sport played on broomsticks in which participants fire a ball through hoops to score points, posed its own challenge. “I could’ve just called it Quidditch [in Yiddish transliteration], but meh, we could do better than that,” Viswanath said. He cast about for something more authentically Yiddish. Inspiration struck when he “remembered that there’s this saying, ‘az got vil, sheest a bezem,’ which means, ‘if God wants, a broom shoots,’ and which possibly refers to somebody who’s impotent, or maybe to a gun.” And so, “shees-bezem”—or “shoot-broom”—was born. Along similar lines, rather than merely transliterate the name of the small flying “golden snitch,” whose capture ends a Quidditch match, Viswanath dubbed it the “goldene flaterl,” or “golden butterfly,” as butterflies are a common motif in Jewish and Yiddish folklore. By riffing off Yiddish sayings and symbols in this way, Viswanath hopes “people will feel the Yiddishe taam [taste].”

-via Instapundit | Photo: Warner Bros.

Source: neatorama

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