'Suomentaja ei käännäkään sanoja vaan ajatuksia.'
'A Finnish translator doesn't, after all, translate words but thoughts.'
Pollomuhku ja posityyhtynen ('Bubotuber and Pigwidgeon') was my reading marathon number two book number one - a book by the Finnish translator of Harry Potter on her perhaps biggest and probably most influential work to date; translating this beloved series from beginning to end (including The Cursed Child and other stuff like that too).
This book answers most of the questions the translator often gets asked: how do you translate all those names, how does the fame of the series feel, does she miss them now that it's fin(n)ished... And it's really quite interesting. Even though I've always comprehended that someone does indeed translate all of these books, I've never fully realised just how much work goes into it. I'll be sure to appreciate it more in the future and maybe even read more translated works.
It's clear from the way Kapari-Jatta talks about her work that she has a strong passion for it. The only book I've actually read with her translation (since I've happily read Harry Potters in English) is Holes by Louis Sachar. I would say that's a good translation as well. Pollomuhku talks very in depth (sometimes too much so) about the creative process of the translator as she attempts to understand the mind of the author and the complexities of the world they have created. She also really thought deep and hard about how to translate all those imaginary words while preserving their spirit. This is especially important since these books started out as children's books and you can't reasonably expect every Finnish child to know enough English to make the connections.
Another thing I thought was cool: translating hints. If you've read these books before, you'll probably know that J.K. Rowling adds a ton of hints in her books about what will happen in the future instalments. The translator talks about how the hints need to be of the same quality as originally - not more or less clear. It's another thing I've mostly taken for granted, translating these things skillfully, but they do take a lot of thought, especially in Rowling's case.
I might even have given this a five but sometimes it just trailed off a bit too much and repeated the same things many times. For a (by default Finnish skills are required) Harry Potter fan interested in languages I would recommend this without hesitation regardless!
Also something to appreciate: this cover was made by Mika Launis, who also made all the Finnish Harry Potter covers! I really like his work and I think these two people definitely made the Finnish editions of Harry Potter what they are.
For the Helmet 2017 reading challenge I put this in a category I've been dreading filling because it's so niche.... 25: A book where nobody dies! Yay!!!