MuggleNet Academia: ‘Parseltongue, Gobbledegook, and Troll: On the Difficulties of Translating Harry Potter’ Show #3

My co-host at MuggleNet Academia, Keith Hawk, has written to let me know that our third show, this one on Potter translations, is up and available for downloading today. ‘Parseltongue, Gobbledegook, and Troll’ is something of a departure for us as this program is less academic per se — on the artistry and meaning of the books — as it is about the books as books and how they succeed or fail when translated into another language.

Our special guest is Josee LeBlanc, a Potter Pundit from Canada who works with government agencies and their French and English translation issues. Joining her as our student representative is Amanda Pavani from Brazil, a polyglut and Potter-phile of the first rank. From the show synopsis:

When we read the Harry Potter series, we notice them all. Those clever wordplays, alliterations, rich accents and meaningful last names Jo Rowling conjured up from the tip of her pen. Yet, while we sometimes pause to analyze the second or third meanings of Dumbledore’s name or marvel over how all those Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes inventions just seem to roll off your tongue (Canary Cream, Ton Tongue Toffee, etc.), most of us never think about the amount of work involved to translate it all into another language. In the case of alliterations, when the words don’t match in the target language, what should be translated: the sounds (Wimbourne Wasps) or the meaning? How do you translate Hagrid or Seamus’ accent? How about Fleur Delacour’s or Madame Maxime’s accents in French? And what about wordplays that can’t be translated literally; what should be done about those?

You can read more about the show here or download it immediately at this link. Please be sure to share your feedback at MuggleNet and let us know what subjects you’d like to explore and whom you’d like us to invite on as our guests!

Shows featuring Washington & Lee’s Suzanne Keen in a discussion of the Hogwarts Saga as Serious ‘Series’ fiction and Lawrence Unibersity’s Edmund Kern, author of The Wisdom of Harry Potter, on sex and gender issues in Harry Potter can be downloaded at iTunes here. Transcriptions available, too — Enjoy!