Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – a play by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany
Vietnamese title: Harry Potter Và Đứa Trẻ Bị Nguyền Rủa.
English to Vietnamses. Translated 2016, first printed 2017. Tre Publishing.
I said yes to Cursed Child, fully aware that I was opening several cans of worms at the same time.
The translator of the Harry Potter series is perhaps the first person to become famous through translation in Vietnam. As the publisher announced on Facebook they had purchased the copyright for Cursed Child, every other comment asked if Lý Lan would continue to translate it whilst the rest is more or less “please let it be her”.
For me, a famous translator is a peculiar concept. While I believe the hypothetical perfect translator should be invisible, I am also thankful for people like C.K. Scott Moncrieff or Ngọc Thứ Lang. Both were brilliant and left quite a bit of fingerprints in their work, so to speak. One may even argue that their work is brilliant because of these fingerprints.
While I have nothing but admiration and gratitude for Lý Lan’s work, there are a number of things I would have done differently if I were to do the Harry Potter series. For example, I would I have made the magical terms much shorter. I would prefer “Ám thuật” to “Nghệ thuật Hắc Ám” for Dark Arts, “Phòng Vệ Ám Thuật” to “Phòng Chống Nghệ Thuật Hắc Ám” for Defence against the Dark Arts, “Ám Chúa” to “Chúa Tể Hắc Ám” for the Dark Lord, etc… I guess it is down to our own writing styles and personal interpretation of the original.
However, loyal fans need not worry. In taking on the work, I have also agreed to keep the vocab and accent as consistent as possible with Lý Lan’s translation.
Unlike the 7 books, Cursed Child is a play script. This means dialogue is key. In fact dialogue is everything. To help getting the rhythm right I went to see the play when about two-third through first draft. When in doubt I read the dialogue in character as if I myself were rehearsing the play. I tried my best to replicate nearly all the alliterations.
The result? You will have to tell me, dear readers.
Click here for extracts.