Translations of The Lord of the Rings
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien appeared 1954–55 in the original English. It has since been translated, with various degrees of success, into dozens of other languages.[dead link] Tolkien, an expert in Germanic philology, scrutinized those that were under preparation during his lifetime, and had comments that reflect both the translation process and his work. To aid translators, and because he was unhappy with some choices made by early translators such as Åke Ohlmarks, Tolkien wrote his Guide to the Names in The Lord of the Rings (1967).
Because The Lord of the Rings purports to be a translation of the Red Book of Westmarch, with the English language in the original purporting to represent the Westron of the original, translators need to imitate the complex interplay between English and non-English (Elvish) nomenclature in the book. An additional difficulty is the presence of proper names in Old English (names of the Rohirrim) and Old Norse ("external" names of Dwarves). Their relation to English (within the history of English, and of the Germanic languages more generally, respectively) is intended to reflect the relation of the purported "original" names to Westron.
The first translations of The Lord of the Rings to be prepared were those in Dutch (1956-7, Max Schuchart) and Swedish (1959-60, Åke Ohlmarks). Both took considerable liberties with their material, apparent already from the rendition of the title, In de Ban van de Ring "Under the Spell of the Ring" and Sagan om ringen "The Tale of the Ring", respectively. Later translations, beginning with the Polish Władca Pierścieni in 1961, universally render the title in literal translations, with the exception of Japanese 指輪物語 "Legend of the Ring" and Finnish Taru Sormusten Herrasta "Legend of the Lord of the Rings".
Tolkien in both the Dutch and the Swedish case objected strongly while the translations were in progress, in particular regarding the adaptation of proper names. Despite lengthy correspondence, Tolkien did not succeed in convincing the Dutch translator of his objections, and was similarly frustrated in the Swedish case.
Dutch translation (Schuchart)
Regarding the Dutch version, he wrote
- In principle I object as strongly as is possible to the 'translation' of the nomenclature at all (even by a competent person). I wonder why a translator should think himself called on or entitled to do any such thing. That this is an 'imaginary' world does not give him any right to remodel it according to his fancy, even if he could in a few months create a new coherent structure which it took me years to work out. [...] May I say at once that I will not tolerate any similar tinkering with the personal nomenclature. Nor with the name/word Hobbit. (3 July 1956, to Rayner Unwin, Letters, pp. 249-51).
Schuchart's translation as of 2008 remains the only authorized translation in Dutch. However, there is an unauthorized translation by E.J. Mensink-van Warmelo, dating to the late 1970s.A revision of Schuchert's translation was initiated in 2003, but the publisher Uitgeverij M decided against publication of the revised version.
Swedish translation (Ohlmarks)
Åke Ohlmarks (1911–1984) was a prolific translator, who during his career besides Tolkien published Swedish versions of Shakespeare, Dante and the Qur'an. His translation of The Lord of the Rings, however, was intensely disliked by Tolkien, more so even than Shuchart's Dutch translation.
Ohlmarks' translation remained the only one available in Swedish for forty years, and until his death in 1984, Ohlmarks remained impervious to the numerous complaints and calls for revision from readers.After The Silmarillion was published in 1977, Christopher Tolkien consented to a Swedish translation only on the condition that Ohlmarks have nothing to do with it. After a fire in his home in 1982, Ohlmarks incoherently charged Tolkien fans with arson, and subsequently he published a book connecting Tolkien with "black magic" and Nazism.
Ohlmarks' translation has only been superseded in 2005 by a new translation by Erik Andersson with poems interpreted by Lotta Olsson.
The Guide to the Names in The Lord of the Rings is a guideline on the nomenclature in The Lord of the Rings compiled by J. R. R. Tolkien in 1966 to 1967, intended for the benefit of translators, especially for translations into Germanic languages. The first translations to profit from the guideline were those into Danish (Ida Nyrop Ludvigsen) and German (Margaret Carroux), both appearing 1972.
Frustrated by his experience with the Dutch and Swedish translations, Tolkien asked that
- when any further translations are negotiated, [...] I should be consulted at an early stage. [...] After all, I charge nothing, and can save a translator a good deal of time and puzzling; and if consulted at an early stage my remarks will appear far less in the light of peevish criticisms (7 December 1957 to Rayner Unwin, Letters, p. 263).
With a view to the planned Danish translation, Tolkien decided to take action in order to avoid similar disappointments in the future. On 2 January 1967 he wrote to Otto B. Lindhardt, of the Danish publisher Gyldendals Bibliotek:
- I have therefore recently been engaged in making, and have nearly completed, a commentary on the names in this story, with explanations and suggestions for the use of a translator, having especially in mind Danish and German (Tolkien-George Allen & Unwin archive, HarperCollins, cited after Hammond and Scull 2005).
Photocopies of this "commentary" were sent to translators of The Lord of the Rings by Allen & Unwin from 1967. After Tolkien's death, it was published as Guide to the Names in The Lord of the Rings, edited by Christopher Tolkien in A Tolkien Compass (1975).Hammond and Scull (2005) have newly transcribed and slightly edited Tolkien's typescript, and re-published it under the title of Nomenclature of The Lord of the Rings.
Tolkien uses the abbreviations CS for "Common Speech, in original text represented by English", and LT for the target language of the translation. His approach is the prescription that if in doubt, a proper name should not be altered but left as it appears in the English original:
- "All names not in the following list should be left entirely unchanged in any language used in translation (LT), except that inflexional s, es should be rendered according to the grammar of the LT."
- "the author, acting as translator of Elvish names already devised and used in this book or elsewhere, has taken pains to produce a CS name that is both a translation and also (to English ears) a euphonious name of familiar English style, even if it does not actually occur in England."
An example of such a case is Rivendell, the translation of Sindarin Imladris "Glen of the Cleft", or Westernesse, the translation of Númenor. The list gives suggestions for "old, obsolescent, or dialectal words in the Scandinavian and German languages".
German translation (Carroux)
For Shire, Tolkien endorses the Gouw of the Dutch version and remarks that German Gau "seems to me suitable in Ger., unless its recent use in regional reorganization under Hitler has spoilt this very old word."
The German translator, Margaret Carroux, decided that this was indeed the case, and opted for the more artificial Auenland "meadow-land" instead.Rivendell Tolkien considered as a particularly difficult case, and recommends to "translate by sense, or retain as seems best." Carroux (1972) opted for literal translation, Bruchtal.Another difficult case is the name of Shelob, formed from the pronoun she plus lob, a dialectal word for "spider" (according to Tolkien; the OED is only aware of its occurrence in Middle English). Tolkien doesn't give any prescription; he merely notes that "The Dutch version retains Shelob, but the Swed. has the rather feeble Honmonstret ["she-monster"]." Carroux chose Kankra, an artificial feminine formation from dialectal German Kanker "Opiliones" (cognate to cancer).
The name "Baggins" was rendered as Beutlin (containing the word Beutel meaning "bag"), and "Elf" was rendered as Elb, the plural Elves as Elben. The choice reflects Tolkien's suggestion:
- "With regard to German: I would suggest with diffidence that Elf, elfen, are perhaps to be avoided as equivalents of Elf, elven. Elf is, I believe, borrowed from English, and may retain some of the associations of a kind that I should particularly desire not to be present (if possible): e.g. those of Drayton or of A Midsummer Night's Dream [...] I wonder whether the word Alp (or better still the form Alb, still given in modern dictionaries as a variant, which is historically the more normal form) could not be used. It is the true cognate of English elf [...] The Elves of the 'mythology' of The L.R. are not actually equatable with the folklore traditions about 'fairies', and as I have said (Appendix F[...]) I should prefer the oldest available form of the name to be used, and leave it to acquire its own associations for readers of my tale.
The Elb chosen by Carroux instead of the suggested Alb is a construction by Jacob Grimm in his 1835 Teutonic Mythology. Grimm, like Tolkien, notes that German Elf is a loan from the English, and argues for the revival of the original German cognate, which survived in the adjective elbisch and in composed names like Elbegast. Grimm also notes that the correct plural of Elb would be Elbe, but Carroux does not follow in this and uses the plural Elben, denounced by Grimm as incorrect in his German Dictionary (s.v. Alb).
Interest in Russia awoke soon after the publication of The Lord of the Rings in 1955, long before the first Russian translation.A first effort at publication was made in the 1960s, but in order to comply with literary censorship in Soviet Russia, the work was considerably abridged and transformed. The ideological danger of the book was seen in the "hidden allegory 'of the conflict between the individualist West and the totalitarian, Communist East.'" (Markova 2006), while, ironically, Marxist readings in the west conversely identified Tolkien's anti-industrial ideas as presented in the Shire with primitive communism, in a struggle with the evil forces of technocratic capitalism.
Russian translations of The Lord of the Rings circulated as samizdat and were published only after the collapse of the Soviet Union, but then in great numbers, no less than ten official Russian translations appeared between 1990 and 2005 (Markova 2006). Tolkien fandom in Russia grew especially rapidly during the early 1990s at Moscow State University. Many unofficial and incomplete translations are in circulation. The first translation appearing in print was that by Kistyakovski and Muravyov (volume 1, published 1982).
After Tolkien's death
The Danish (Ludvigsen) and German (Carroux) translations were the only ones profiting from Tolkien's "commentary" which were published before Tolkien's death in 1973.Since then, throughout the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s and 2000s, new translations into numerous languages have continued to appear.
The first translation of The Lord of the Rings into Hebrew (שר הטבעות) was done by Canaanite movement member Ruth Livnit, aided by Uriel Ofek as the translator of the verse. The 1977 version was considered a unique book for the sort of Hebrew that was used therein, until it was revised by Dr. Emanuel Lottem according to the second English edition, although still under the name of the previous translators, with Lottem as merely "The editor".
The difference between the two versions is clear in the translation of names with the book. Elves, for an example, were first translated as "בני לילית" (Bneyi Lilith, i.e. the "Children of Lilith") but in the new edition was transcribed in the form of "Elefs" maintained through Yiddish as "עלף". The change was made because "Bneyi Lilith" essentially relates with Babylonian-derived Jewish folklore character of Lilith, mother of all demons, an inappropriate name for Tolkien's Elves. Since the whole seven appendices and part of the foreword were dropped in the first edition, the rules of transcript therein were not kept. In the New edition Dr. Lottem translated the appendices by himself, and transcribed names according to the instructions therein. Furthermore, the old translation was made without any connection to the rest of Tolkien's mythological context, not The Silmarillion nor even The Hobbit. Parts of the story relating to events mentioned in the above books were not understood and therefore either translated inaccurately, or even dropped completely.There are also major inconsistencies in transcript or in repetitions of similar text within the story, especially in the verse.
Still, the majority of veteran Tolkien fans in Israel prefer the older translation for its allegedly better Hebrew and falsely claimed "greater accuracy".
List of translations
The number of languages into which Tolkien's works has been translated is subject to some debate. HarperCollins explicitly lists 38 (or 39) languages for which translations of "The Hobbit and/or The Lord of the Rings" exist:
- Basque, Breton, Bulgarian, Catalan, Chinese (Simplified and Traditional), Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Estonian, Finnish, French, Galician, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, Icelandic, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Latvian, Lithuanian, Marathi, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese (European, Brazilian), Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Slovak, Slovenian, Spanish, Swedish, Thai, Turkish.
For some of these languages, there is a translation of The Hobbit, but not of The Lord of the Rings. For some languages, there is more than one translation of The Lord of the Rings. These notably include Russian, besides Swedish, Norwegian, German, Polish and Slovenian.
In addition to languages mentioned above, there are published translations of the Hobbit into Albanian, Arabic, Armenian, Belarusian, Esperanto, Faroese, Georgian, Luxembourgish, Macedonian, Moldavian, Persian and Ukrainian. The Marathi translation, however, seems not to exist or at least not to be published.
Comparatively few translations appeared during Tolkien's lifetime: when Tolkien died on 2 September 1973, the Dutch, Swedish, Polish, Italian, Danish, German and French translations had been published completely, and the Japanese and Finnish ones in part. The Russian translations are a special case because many unpublished and unauthorized translations circulated in the 1970s and 1980s Soviet Union, which were gradually published from the 1990s.
|Dutch||In de Ban van de Ring||1957||Max Schuchart||Het Spectrum, Utrecht|
|Swedish||Härskarringen||1959 to 1961||Åke Ohlmarks||Almqvist & Wiksell, Stockholm||ISBN 9789113009988|
|Polish||Władca Pierścieni||1961 to 1963||Maria Skibniewska (poems by Włodzimierz Lewik and Andrzej Nowicki))|
|Italian||Il Signore degli Anelli||1967 to 1970||Vittoria Alliata di Villafranca||Bompiani|
|Danish||Ringenes Herre||1968 to 1972||Ida Nyrop Ludvigsen||Gyldendal, Copenhagen||ISBN 9788702043204|
|German||Der Herr der Ringe||1969 to 1970||Margaret Carroux and Ebba-Margareta von Freymann (poems)||Klett-Cotta, Stuttgart||ISBN 9783608936667|
|Norwegian (Bokmål)||Krigen om ringen||1973 to 1975||Nils Werenskiold||Tiden Norsk Forlag||ISBN 8210008161, ISBN 8210009303, ISBN 8210010964|
|French||Le Seigneur des anneaux||1972 to 1973||Francis Ledoux||Christian Bourgois|
|Japanese||『指輪物語』 Yubiwa Monogatari||1972 to 1975||Teiji Seta (瀬田貞二) and Akiko Tanaka (田中明子)||Hyouronsya(評論社),Tokyo|
|Finnish||Taru sormusten herrasta||1973 to 1975||Kersti Juva, Eila Pennanen, Panu Pekkanen|
|Portuguese-Portugal||O Senhor dos Anéis||1975 to 1979||António Rocha and Alberto Monjardim||Publicações Europa-América|
|Russian||Властелин колец Vlastelin kolec||1976 (publ. 2002)||A. A. Gruzberg|
|Greek||Ο Άρχοντας των Δαχτυλιδιών O Archontas ton Dachtylidion||1978||Eugenia Chatzithanasi-Kollia||Kedros, Athens||ISBN 9600403082|
|Hebrew||שר הטבעות Sar ha-Tabbaot||1979 to 1980||Ruth Livnit|
|Norwegian (Bokmål)||Ringenes herre||1980 to 1981||Torstein Bugge Høverstad||Tiden Norsk Forlag||ISBN 9788210044496|
|Spanish||El Señor de los Anillos||1980||Matilde Horne, Luis Domènech and Rubén Masera||Círculo de lectores, Barcelona||ISBN 8445070320 (Minotauro)|
|Serbian||Господар Прстенова Gospodar Prstenova||1981||Zoran Stanojević||Nolit, Belgrade||no ISBN|
|Russian||Властелин колец Vlastelin kolec||1982 to 1992||V. S. Muravev (2nd to 6th books, poems), A. A. Kistyakovskij (first book)|
|Russian||Властелин колец Vlastelin kolec||1984 (publ. 1991)||H. V. Grigoreva and V. I. Grushetskij and I. B. Grinshpun (poems)||Severo-Zapad||ISBN 5718300038, ISBN 5352003124 (Azbuka)|
|Hungarian||A Gyűrűk Ura||1985||Réz Ádám and Göncz Árpád and Tandori Dezső (poems)||Európa Könyvkiadó, Budapest|
|Catalan||El Senyor dels Anells||1986 to 1988||Francesc Parcerisas||Vicens Vives, Barcelona||ISBN 84-316-6868-7|
|Armenian||Պահապաննէրը||1989||Emma Makarian||Arevnik, Erevan||Only The Fellowship of the Ring, no ISBN|
|Czech||Pán Prstenů||1990 to 1992||Stanislava Pošustová||Mladá fronta, Praha||ISBN 8020401059, ISBN 8020401945, ISBN 8020402594|
|Icelandic||Hringadróttinssaga||1993 to 1995||Þorsteinn Thorarensen and Geir Kristjánsson (poems)||Fjölvi, Reykjavík|
|Lithuanian||Žiedų valdovas||1994||Andrius Tapinas and Jonas Strielkūnas||Alma Littera, Vilnius||ISBN 9986020387, ISBN 9986024870, ISBN 9986029597|
|Portuguese (BRA)||O Senhor dos Anéis||1994||Lenita M. R. Esteves and Almiro Pisetta||Martins Fontes||ISBN 8533602928|
|Croatian||Gospodar prstenova||1995||Zlatko Crnković|
|Slovenian||Gospodar prstanov||1995||Polona Mertelj, Primož Pečovnik, Zoran Obradovič|
|Turkish||Yüzüklerin Efendisi||1996-1998||Çiğdem Erkal İpek, Bülent Somay (poems)||Metis, İstanbul||ISBN 975-342-347-0|
|Esperanto||La Mastro de l' Ringoj||1995 to 1997||William Auld|
|Estonian||Sõrmuste Isand||1996 to 1998||Ene Aru and Votele Viidemann||Tiritamm, Tallinn||ISBN 9985550390, ISBN 9985550463, ISBN 9985550498|
|Polish||Władca Pierścieni||1996 to 1997||Jerzy Łozinski and Mark Obarski (poems)|
|Bulgarian||Властелинът на пръстените Vlastelinăt na prăstenite||1990-1991||Lyubomir Nikolov||Narodna Kultura Sofia|
|German||Der Herr der Ringe||2000||Wolfgang Krege||Klett-Cotta, Stuttgart||ISBN 9783608936391|
|Russian||Властелин колец Vlastelin kolec||2002||V. Volkovskij, V. Vosedov, D. Afinogenova||AST, Moscow||ISBN 5170162650|
|Polish||Władca Pierścieni||2001||Books I,II,II,IV : Maria and Cezary Frąc ; Book V : Aleksandra Januszewska ; Book VI : Aleksandra Jagiełowicz ; Poems : Tadeusz A. Olszański ; Appendices: Ryszard Derdziński||Amber, Warszawa|
|Slovenian||Gospodar prstanov||2001||Branko Gradišnik|
|Slovak||Pán prsteňov||2001 to 2002||Otakar Kořínek and Braňo Varsik|
|Galician||O Señor dos Aneis||2001 to 2002||Moisés R. Barcia||Xerais, Vigo||ISBN 84-8302-682-1|
|Thai||ลอร์ดออฟเดอะริงส์||2001 to 2002||Wanlee Shuenyong||Amarin, Bangkok||ISBN 974-7597-54-3|
|Chinese||魔戒之王 mó jiè zhī wáng||2001 to 2002||Lucifer Chu (朱學恆)|
|Macedonian||Господарот на прстените Gospodarot na prstenite||2002||Romeo Širilov, Ofelija Kaviloska||AEA, Misla, Skopje||ISBN 9989-39-170-X, ISBN 9989-39-173-4, ISBN 9989-39-176-9|
|Basque||Eraztunen Jauna||2002 to 2003||Agustin Otsoa Eribeko||Txalaparta, Tafalla||ISBN 8481362581|
|Indonesian||Raja Segala Cincin||2002 to 2003||Anton Adiwiyoto, Gita K. Yuliani||Gramedia, Jakarta|
|Latvian||Gredzenu Pavēlnieks||2002 to 2004||Ieva Kolmane||Jumava, Riga||ISBN 9984055795|
|Persian||ارباب حلقهها Arbāb-e Halqehā||2002 to 2004||Riza Alizadih||Rawzanih, Tehran||ISBN 964334116X, ISBN 9643341399, ISBN 9643341739|
|Ukrainian||Володар Перснів Volodar persniv||2003||A. V. Nemirova||Фолио (Folio)||ISBN 966-03-1915-0 ISBN 966-03-1916-9 ISBN 966-03-1917-7|
|Albanian||Lordi i unazave||2004 to 2006||Ilir I. Baçi (part 1), Artan Miraka (2 and 3)||Dudaj, Tirana||ISBN 99927-50-96-0 ISBN 99943-33-11-9 ISBN 99943-33-58-5|
|Faroese||Ringanna Harri||2003 to 2005||Axel Tórgarð||Stiðin, Hoyvík||ISBN 999184239X|
|Ukrainian||Володар перстенів Volodar persteniv||2004 to 2005||Olena Feshovets and Nazar Fedorak (poems)||Astrolabia, Lviv||ISBN 9668657187|
|Swedish||Ringarnas herre||2004 to 2005||Erik Andersson and Lotta Olsson (poems)||Norstedts||ISBN 9113011537|
|Norwegian (Nynorsk)||Ringdrotten||2006||Eilev Groven Myhren||Tiden Norsk Forlag, Oslo||ISBN 8205365598|
|Belarusian||Уладар пярсьцёнкаў: Зьвяз пярсьцёнка, Дзье вежы, Вяартаньне караля Uladar pyars'tsyonkaŭ: Z'vyaz Pyars'tsyonka, Dz've vezhy, Vyartan'ne karalya||2008-2009||Дзьмітрый Магілеўцаў and Крысьціна Курчанкова (Dźmitry Mahileŭcaŭ and Kryścina Kurčankova)||Mensk||no ISBN|
|Arabic||سيد الخواتم، رفيقة الخاتم، خروج الخاتم Sayyid al-Khawātim, Rafīqat al-Khātim, Khurūj al-Khātim||2008||Amr Khairy||Malamih, Cairo||ISBN 978-977-6262-03-4, only The Fellowship of the Ring, Book I|
|Arabic||سيد الخواتم، Sayyid al-Khawātim||2009||فرج اللّه سيد محمد||Nahdet Misr, Cairo||ISBN 977-114-4114-0|
|Georgian||ბეჭდების მბრძანებელი: ბეჭდის საძმო Bechdebis Mbrdzanebel'i: Bechdis Sadzmo||2009||Nika Samushia and Tsitso Khotsuashvili (poems)||Gia Karchkhadze Publishing, Tbilisi||ISBN 978-99940-34-04-8, only The Fellowship of the Ring, Book I|
- ^ ""How many languages have The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings been translated into?"". http://www.tolkien.co.uk/faq3.aspx. Retrieved 3 June 2006.
- ^ Letters, 305f.; c.f. Martin Andersson "Lord of the Errors or, Who Really Killed the Witch-King?"
- ^ Mark T. Hooker, "Dutch Samizdat: The Mensink-van Warmelo Translation of The Lord of the Rings," in Translating Tolkien: Text and Film, Walking Tree Publishers, 2004, pp. 83-92.
- ^ Tolkien och den svarta magin (1982), ISBN 9789175740539.
- ^ The second edition was therefore soon replaced the older one on the shelves, and it was published under the name: "שר הטבעות, תרגמה מאנגלית: רות לבנית. ערך מחדש: עמנואל לוטם ("The Lord of the Rings". Translated by Ruth Livnit, revised by Emanuel Lottem. Zmora Beitan [זמורה ביתן] publication: Tel Aviv, 1991)
- ^ The new version, Editor's endnote.
- ^ Yuvl Kfir, who assisted Dr. Lottem in the revision, wrote an article in favour of the new edition, translated by Mark Shulson: "Alas! The Aged and Good Translation!" 
- ^ [unreliable source?]
- ^ FAQ at tolkien.co.uk
- ^ Translations of The Hobbit
- ^ a special edition of 1977 included illustrations by Queen Margrethe II of Denmark, working under the pseudonym of Ingahild Grathmer.
- ^ http://www.vbs.rs/scripts/cobiss?ukaz=DISP&id=1441023317153078&rec=4&sid=7
- ^ Turning fantasy into a reality that helps others Gavin Phipps, Taipei Times, 6 March 2005, page 18.
- ^ published Översättarens anmärkningar "translator's notes" in 2007 (ISBN 9789113016092)
- Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull, The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion (2005), ISBN 0-618-64267-6, 750-782.
- Allan Turner, Translating Tolkien: Philological Elements in "The Lord of the Rings," Frankfurt: Peter Lang, 2005. ISBN 3631535171. Duisburger Arbeiten zur Sprach– und Kulturwissenschaft no. 59.
- Mark T. Hooker, Tolkien Through Russian Eyes, Walking Tree Publishers, 2003. ISBN 3-9521424-7-6.