Anyone Read the Books in the Original Polish?

#1 Posted by Undeadpool (4913 posts) -

Or even translated to another language besides English? Cause I just excitedly picked up the third book and noticed there's a different translator from the first two. I was still absolutely willing to dive in headfirst, but I'm through the first chapter (about fifty pages) and...whew, there is a pretty massive tonal shift. The best way I could put it is this book sounds WAY more "amateurish," like a fan translation rather than a professional one. It's not BAD, but someone just used the phrase "drop-dead gorgeous" and that's not the first titanically anachronistic phrase used.

I get that there were big anachronisms in the first two books, but they always felt like they were there to keep the tone grimy and vicious (and avoid the usual thee thou pitfalls) while here it just sounds like the translator couldn't come up with a better phrase. UNLESS, and here's why I posed the question in the title, the tonal shift is consistent with the original books. Anyone had a similar experience or can shed some light on this?

#2 Edited by Ghostiet (5228 posts) -

You would have to give me a specific example.

I'm not a big fan of Sapkowski's books - I think the world he crafted is brilliant, but in terms of actual writing he's a graphomaniac. Although, his style is specific in that it is extremely coloquial, but in a way Polish from the 15th or 16th century would be. Old Polish is vastly different from English of old, in that our language changed very little compared to yours.

In general, Polish can be much more colorful than English ever can aspire to be, both in official in coloquial tone. Case in point - English handles curse words with "fuck". We have "kurwa", "jebać", "pierdolić", "ruchać", "pieprzyć", "dupczyć", all of which can be used as a verb, noun and adjective, and that's without mentioning their derrivatives. "Dupa" and "tyłek" are both translated to "ass" and one is vulgar and the other one isn't.

#3 Edited by Undeadpool (4913 posts) -

I'm not sure what you mean by a "specific example" since I had one up there. Unless you mean an example of it in the original Polish VS what it was translated as, at which point I couldn't as I neither speak nor read Polish (though if I did, this would be a non-issue). The "drop-dead gorgeous" line was what inspired this thread.

#4 Posted by Ghostiet (5228 posts) -

@undeadpool: The full sentence or something, so I could maybe scout the book and see the exact difference. By the third book you mean "Baptism of Fire" from the saga, right?

I mean, Sapkowski does use anachronistic phrases here and there - "Baptism of Fire" contains a highly coloquial modern word "bajer", which is an idiom that means "bullshit" (as in bullshitting someone to gain something, in this case, to seduce a lady), there's also the Dwarven runic inscription on a sword, "Na pohybel skurwysynom!". I'm not sure how they translated that one into English. Point is, the nature of Polish makes it hard to tell if this is a shoddy translation that couldn't handle the length and colorfulness of the language or just Sapkowski's quirks.

#5 Posted by erbarad (26 posts) -

@ghostiet said:

In general, Polish can be much more colorful than English ever can aspire to be, both in official in coloquial tone. Case in point - English handles curse words with "fuck". We have "kurwa", "jebać", "pierdolić", "ruchać", "pieprzyć", "dupczyć", all of which can be used as a verb, noun and adjective, and that's without mentioning their derrivatives. "Dupa" and "tyłek" are both translated to "ass" and one is vulgar and the other one isn't.

This. I find it hard to imagine for anyone to translate it in a way, that would convey the subtleties of the Polish language.

#6 Posted by Undeadpool (4913 posts) -

@ghostiet: I mean third book released in America (as far as I know), so "Time of Contempt." It's around page 54 (I get that it won't be 1:1 in terms of page count, but just giving you a general idea), it's when Yennefer and Ciri first get to the bank. The owner says "It's an unalloyed joy to see you. You look... Oh, dammnit, you look drop-dead gorgeous!" I feel like I may be overreacting, but...ugh.

@erbarad: I'm not sure the first translator did it perfectly, again I don't speak it), but they had a lot more nuance, verve and subtlety to their writing. It felt more localized and less translated.

#7 Edited by Ghostiet (5228 posts) -

@undeadpool: The original: "Prawdziwa radość cię widzieć. Wyglądasz... Ech, psiakrew, aż dech zapiera!", which literally translates to: "It's a real joy to see you. You look... Oh, damn it, you look breathtaking!"

So it's a pretty poor translation, since "drop-dead gorgeous" does absolutely nothing to enhance the text and there is a plausible and fuctioning translation. It's especially weird considering "psiakrew" is an idiom that is very roughly translated to "darn", while "unalloyed" is a completely needless color word in the context, so it seems like the translator completely failed to recognize the spot where he could stray from the original.

#8 Posted by Undeadpool (4913 posts) -

@ghostiet: And THEREIN lies the problem. There's stuff like that peppered ALL through the text, and I'm only through the first 50 pages. Thanks very much for that, it feels very validating.

#9 Posted by Random45 (1061 posts) -

@ghostiet: And THEREIN lies the problem. There's stuff like that peppered ALL through the text, and I'm only through the first 50 pages. Thanks very much for that, it feels very validating.

You're really bumming me out here man, I was planning to wait thirty years for the rest of the books to be translated, but if the rest of the books are like this, then I don't know if I should even bother.

#10 Posted by AlexW00d (6189 posts) -

There are a series of fan translations that I know @samstrife speaks very highly of, and they're considered by people who read both English and Polish as far superior than the official translations. Maybe you wanna check those out instead.

#11 Posted by JJWeatherman (14557 posts) -

I just finished Time of Contempt in English, and I didn't enjoy it nearly as much as the Last Wish stories or Blood of Elves. I couldn't put my finger on exactly why, but a different translator would explain a lot. I definitely had the thought that the translation felt lacking, but I never considered it could have been done by someone else.

#12 Edited by Undeadpool (4913 posts) -

@jjweatherman said:

I just finished Time of Contempt in English, and I didn't enjoy it nearly as much as the Last Wish stories or Blood of Elves. I couldn't put my finger on exactly why, but a different translator would explain a lot. I definitely had the thought that the translation felt lacking, but I never considered it could have been done by someone else.

It was the first thing I checked after it sounded wrong to me. I really, REALLY loved those first two books' translations.

@alexw00d: Link? Cause I've already supported the book financially, so if I can get a BETTER translation, I'm all about that.

@random45: The lore is still pretty cool, so far, it's just...yeah, the meat and potatoes of it isn't great...

#13 Posted by ArtisanBreads (3758 posts) -

Well this thread was good reading for someone who is planning on starting the series soon. Going to take a look at fan translations.

#14 Posted by Undeadpool (4913 posts) -

Well this thread was good reading for someone who is planning on starting the series soon. Going to take a look at fan translations.

Again, The Last Wish and Blood of Elves are both absolutely great, so feel free to grab those.

#15 Posted by AlexW00d (6189 posts) -

@undeadpool: I was hoping Sam would see my post and chuck the link in here himself, but I guess he hasn't. I'll pester him for it cause I don't have them.

#16 Edited by SamStrife (1282 posts) -

Oh hello, I happened to make a Google Doc just for this reason...to spread The Witcher love <3

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1syJqzIFCgI6OW_HN5C3vhk1IuBDKSBKvFOC_kjlQ2Nc/edit#

If you ask me, the fan translations are FAR superior to the official ones (I personally cannot believe how awful that official translation excerpt you posted was.) Sure, in the fan ones, there's a couple of grammatical hiccups here and there (one that sticks out in my mind is accidentally referring to a character as he when it meant she ((even then that was one occasion))) but you get over them pretty easily and the fan translations do a far better job of capturing the original emotions and themes.

Enjoy duder, they're really damn good books.

EDIT: Sorry for being so late to the party, I didn't realise @alexw00d had pestered me until it was too late.

EDIT2: I should also talk about the way you can read the books. All of them have a Google doc you could sit through but SCREW THAT. If you have a Kindle you can download the .mobi files and transfer them straight over or if you have a different type of ebook reader you can put the .epub files on that. I personally put all the epubs onto my Android tablet and read them all with cool reader. Was a great experience.

#17 Posted by phrosen (143 posts) -

I never got into the German translations of the books, maybe I'll give these a shot.

#18 Edited by Undeadpool (4913 posts) -

@samstrife: Frankly this version already has 3 major typos (including a gender pronoun swap like the one you described) in 50 pages. I'm willing to put up with a few grammatical inconsistencies. Thanks!

#19 Posted by kishinfoulux (2256 posts) -

I always wanted to read those books, but heard the translations weren't great. That bums me out. :-/

#20 Posted by Flacracker (1601 posts) -

@samstrife: The link on your Google doc doesn't have Blood of Elves or The Last Wish it seems. I saw a post by a moderator that says that the links have been removed because the official versions are out. I tried to google search them down but couldn't find anything. Do you have the links for them?

#21 Posted by SamStrife (1282 posts) -

@samstrife: Frankly this version already has 3 major typos (including a gender pronoun swap like the one you described) in 50 pages. I'm willing to put up with a few grammatical inconsistencies. Thanks!

Hey no problem man! Hope you enjoy. It's really sad to hear the official translations are so poorly done though :(

@samstrife: The link on your Google doc doesn't have Blood of Elves or The Last Wish it seems. I saw a post by a moderator that says that the links have been removed because the official versions are out. I tried to google search them down but couldn't find anything. Do you have the links for them?

Sorry dude but I cannot in good conscience link you to pirated books on these forums. Besides, the official translations of the first 2 books are pretty alight (you'll get by with them anyway).

#22 Posted by armaan8014 (5336 posts) -

@ghostiet said:

@undeadpool: The original: "Prawdziwa radość cię widzieć. Wyglądasz... Ech, psiakrew, aż dech zapiera!", which literally translates to: "It's a real joy to see you. You look... Oh, damn it, you look breathtaking!"

So it's a pretty poor translation, since "drop-dead gorgeous" does absolutely nothing to enhance the text and there is a plausible and fuctioning translation. It's especially weird considering "psiakrew" is an idiom that is very roughly translated to "darn", while "unalloyed" is a completely needless color word in the context, so it seems like the translator completely failed to recognize the spot where he could stray from the original.

Agghh! I have the E books but I recently ordered the official version and it'll be delivered in about a day! Damn I've been so excited :/

#23 Edited by Undeadpool (4913 posts) -

@ghostiet said:

@undeadpool: The original: "Prawdziwa radość cię widzieć. Wyglądasz... Ech, psiakrew, aż dech zapiera!", which literally translates to: "It's a real joy to see you. You look... Oh, damn it, you look breathtaking!"

So it's a pretty poor translation, since "drop-dead gorgeous" does absolutely nothing to enhance the text and there is a plausible and fuctioning translation. It's especially weird considering "psiakrew" is an idiom that is very roughly translated to "darn", while "unalloyed" is a completely needless color word in the context, so it seems like the translator completely failed to recognize the spot where he could stray from the original.

Agghh! I have the E books but I recently ordered the official version and it'll be delivered in about a day! Damn I've been so excited :/

At least you're supporting the legitimate author...but also a terrible, TERRIBLE translation...so ya take the bad with the good.

This edit will also create new pages on Giant Bomb for:

Beware, you are proposing to add brand new pages to the wiki along with your edits. Make sure this is what you intended. This will likely increase the time it takes for your changes to go live.

Comment and Save

Until you earn 1000 points all your submissions need to be vetted by other Giant Bomb users. This process takes no more than a few hours and we'll send you an email once approved.