Reading “호빗” (The Hobbit)

I started reading the Hobbit translated into Korean last week; my goal is 10 pages a day, which I was managing well until I started teaching English camp last Monday; even so, I’ve caught up quite a lot on the weekend.

I’ve been surprised how easy I’ve found it,  easier than most other things I’ve read before.  And the reason is obvious… I’ve read it in English before.  This is really the first time I’ve read something in Korean after reading in English, and it makes such a huge difference.  I’m really bad at grasping the context, and  using the context to understand what’s going on… but I’ve read the Hobbit a couple times, and I saw the movie a few weeks ago, so I know what’s going on already.  It’s really funny, but often I feel I can remember the exact words that Tolkien used originally!

And that’s another thing…. the translation seems really direct.  Too direct.  It’s too early really for me to give much of an appraisal of the quality of the translation, but my first thoughts are that it’s somewhat lacking, too direct, and a bit of a rushed job.  It doesn’t seem like the translator has taken the time to try to express things in a natural way, but just translates as directly as possible, even if Koreans wouldn’t say it that way.

One translation I found quite bad was this:

“무리라고! 난 그 발음이 마음에 안 들어…” which is a translation of:

“Throng!” thought Mr. Baggins.  “I don’t like the sound of that….”

Here the translator has used 발음 (pronunciation) to translate “sound”…as in “I don’t like the pronunciation of that”.  My wife, who is Korean, agrees this doesn’t make any sense.  It would seem much better to use the word 소리 or 말…

Anyways, I’m not really in a position to give a proper critique of the translation, but that’s my impression, anyways.




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