Welcome to this year’s second post as a part of the Language Reading Challenge.
As a quick recap, here are the books we’ve read so far this year:
January // Book about your native language
The guidelines to participate are available here and you can also join up by commenting on the posts here at Eurolinguiste or by becoming a part of the group on Goodreads.
This month, the challenge was to read a book in your target language (translation of a book from your native language). So I chose to read a book by one of my favorite authors, Patrick Rothfuss. The title of the book in Spanish is El Nombre del Viento, or in English, The Name of the Wind.
El Nombre del Viento by Patrick Rothfuss
I’ve mentioned before that I love reading fantasy/science-fiction. It’s one of my many favorite genres and lately, it’s become one of my best language learning resources for when I hit that intermediate/advanced stage in a language.
Patrick Rothfuss became one of my favorite authors in the genre for a variety of reasons (his craft, his storytelling style, the list goes on…), but more notably, the fact that his protagonist is a language-learning musician. I couldn’t relate to a character any more than I do with Kvothe if I tried.
When I was browsing his shop, The Tinker’s Packs, I first discovered the Croatian edition of his book, then went on to see that they had several translations of his work available. After the difficulty of getting Game of Thrones in Croatian, seeing a book that I love in the language so easily available had me floored and I knew that I had to get it. I then wondered what other languages his books were translated into and started making my wishlist.
Through the Tinker’s Packs, I could get his books in Spanish, Chinese, Korean, French, Russian, Croatian, Italian, Catalan, Czech, Hebrew, Greek, Finnish, Dutch, Japanese, Lithuanian, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Serbian, Slovak, Slovenian, Swedish, Turkish, German, Estonian, etc. Granted, I don’t speak all of those languages, so it was easy to narrow the list down, but I still ordered the books in Korean, Chinese, Russian, Spanish, and Croatian. Plus, my purchase went towards helping out the Worldbuilders charity which was a pretty big plus.
So back to The Name of the Wind.
The Name of the Wind is the first book in Patrick Rothfuss’ Kingkiller series. Kvothe, the main character in the book, is quick-witted and sharp-tongued, a university student and a talented musician. Like much of modern fantasy, The Kingkiller Chronicles, has several invented languages. And in the first book, Rothfuss uses different languages to illustrate the relationships between characters, to further embellish scenes, and to world-build. He talks somewhat about the language learning process, but not as in-depth as he does in the second book (so I’ll save that for later).
Some of my favorite bits about language learning:
– The use of the Temic language between Kvothe and Bast to show their friendship. In an early scene, Kvothe switches into the Temic language to joke with Bast, and the banter is well-employed. The main character also uses language to sometimes establish rapport with other characters – much in the same way we do (‘Hey, look, I speak the same language as you! Let’s be friends!’).
– The Chronicler’s shorthand writing system which Kvothe picks up within moments. This was used to show Kvothe’s aptitude for languages and the description of the shorthand system is just vague enough to sound like it could exist.
—¿ Es cierto que aprendiste temán en un solo día?
Kvothe esbozó una sonrisa y agachó la cabeza. —De eso hace mucho tiempo. Casi lo había olvidado. Tardé un día y medio, para ser exactos. Un día y medio sin dormir.[…]
—¿ Aprendiste todo el idioma entero?
—No, claro que no —contestó Kvothe con cierta irritación—. Solo una parte. Una parte importante, desde luego, pero no creo que se pueda aprender todo de nada, y menos de un idioma.
Rothfuss, Patrick (2013-09-03). El nombre del viento: Cronicas del asesino de reyes: Primero dia (Spanish Edition) (Kindle Locations 1317-1324). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
“Did you really learn Tema in a day?”
Kvothe gave a faint smile and looked down at the table. “That’s an old story. I’d almost forgotten. It took a day and a half, actually. A day and a half with no sleep.”[…]
“Did you learn the whole language?”
“No. Of course not,” Kvothe said rather testily. “Only a portion of it. A large portion to be sure, but I don’t believe you can ever learn all of anything, let alone a language.”
Rothfuss, Patrick (2007-03-27). The Name of the Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicle Book 1) (p. 51). DAW. Kindle Edition.
– The Tolkein-like historical depth to the languages even if the languages themselves aren’t as developed.
—Eso sí lo sé —dijo Ben—. Son siete. De eso puedes estar seguro. De hecho, su mismo nombre lo dice: Chaen significa siete. Chaen-dian significa «siete de ellos». De ahí viene Chandrian.
—No lo sabía —repuso mi padre—. Chaen. ¿En qué idioma? ¿En íllico?
—Parece temán —comentó mi madre.
—Tienes buen oído —dijo Ben—. En realidad es témico. Es unos mil años anterior al temán.
Rothfuss, Patrick (2013-09-03). El nombre del viento: Cronicas del asesino de reyes: Primero dia (Spanish Edition) (Kindle Locations 2034-2040). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
“That I can answer,” Ben said. “Seven. You can hold to that with some certainty. It’s part of their name, actually. Chaen means seven. Chaen-dian means ‘seven of them.’ Chandrian.”
“I didn’t know that,” my father said. “Chaen. What language is that? Yllish?”
“Sounds like Tema,” my mother said.
“You’ve got a good ear,” Ben said to her. “It’s Temic, actually. Predates Tema by about a thousand years.”
Rothfuss, Patrick (2007-03-27). The Name of the Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicle Book 1) (p. 82). DAW. Kindle Edition.
– The fact that people who speak different languages in the story don’t have magical total mastery of the primary language of the book.
— …adláteres. —Pronunció despacio la última palabra—. ¿Se dice así? ¿Adláteres?
Asentí, y Wilem puso cara de satisfacción. Entonces frunció el ceño. —Ahora que me acuerdo, hay una frase extraña en tu idioma. La gente siempre me pregunta por el camino de Tinuë. «¿ Cómo está el camino de Tinuë?», dicen. ¿Qué significa?
—Es un modismo. Significa…
—Ya sé qué es un modismo —me interrumpió Wilem—. ¿Qué significa ese en concreto?
—Ah —dije, un tanto abochornado—. Solo es un saludo. Es como preguntar «¿ Cómo va todo?», o «¿ Qué hay?».
—Eso también es un modismo —protestó Wilem—. Vuestro idioma está plagado de tonterías. Me extraña que os entendáis. «¿ Cómo va todo?» ¿Va adónde? —Sacudió la cabeza.
—A Tinuë, por lo visto —dije sonriendo—. Tuan volgen oketh ama —añadí. Era uno de mis modismos siaru favoritos. Significaba «No para quitarle importancia—.
Rothfuss, Patrick (2013-09-03). El nombre del viento: Cronicas del asesino de reyes: Primero dia (Spanish Edition) (Kindle Locations 6501-6521). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
“…coterie.” He pronounced the last word slowly. “Is that the right word? Coterie?”
I nodded, and Wilem looked vaguely self-satisfied. Then he frowned. “That makes me remember something strange in your language. People are always asking me about the road to Tinuë. Endlessly they say, ‘how is the road to Tinuë?’ What does it mean?”
I smiled. “It’s an idiomatic piece of the language. That means—”
“I know what an idiom is,” Wilem interrupted. “What does this one mean?”
“Oh,” I said, slightly embarrassed. “It’s just a greeting. It’s kind of like asking ‘how is your day?’ or ‘how is everything going?’”
“That is also an idiom.” Wilem grumbled. “Your language is thick with nonsense. I wonder how any of you understand each other. How is everything going? Going where?” He shook his head.
“Tinuë, apparently.” I grinned at him. “Tuan volgen oketh ama.” I said, using one of my favorite Siaru idioms. It meant ‘don’t let it make you crazy’ but it translated literally as: ‘don’t put a spoon in your eye over it.’
Rothfuss, Patrick (2007-03-27). The Name of the Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicle Book 1) (pp. 273-274). DAW. Kindle Edition.
– Just the fact that Patrick Rothfuss put that much thought into his characters speaking different languages, learning different languages, and that they’re always learning no matter how well you speak a language. It definitely beats some of the other portrayals of language learning I’ve read where characters just magically pick up a language without any effort or prior experience. It’s refreshing to see something more authentic.
On Reading Translations
You may have noticed that as a part of this challenge you’re asked to read two books in your target language. One is intended to be a translation of a work originally written in your native language and the other a work that is originally written in your target language.
Because you gain different things by reading both.
In reading translations you benefit from already knowing the story because you’ve likely already read the work in your native language. You also benefit from the language because it’s going to be written differently as a translation that it would be as a work originally conceived in your target language. Plus reading a translation guarantees that the book is available in your native language to use for reference if needed.
In reading works originally published in your target language you get to benefit from the language. As I mentioned above, things are written completely different when they are originally conceived in a language rather than translated into it.
That being said, reading translations gives you the opportunity to work with material you know and love (like Patrick Rothfuss’ work for me). This is so valuable because it increases the odds that you’re going to enjoy the tools you’re using to learn your target language because you aren’t just using boring old textbooks or flashcards to learn a language. You’re actually ‘living’ in the language and using materials that you enjoy.
Title: El Nombre del Viento
Author: Patrick Rothfuss
Pages: 880 pgs
Publisher: Vintage Espanol
Publication Date: September 3, 2013
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