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The Tale of Hodja Nasreddin: Disturber of the Peace Paperback – November 11, 2009
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(2) The Tale of Hodja Nasreddin: Disturber of the Peace [Paperback]
by Leonid Solovyov (Author), Michael Karpelson (Translator):
the translator is NATIVE IN ENGLISH, I recommend for NATIVE English speakers, including my own kid.
(3) Adventures in Bukhara. The Adventures of Khodja Nasreddin [Kindle Edition]
Leonid Solovyev (Author), Tatiana Shebunina (Translator)
a translator is obviously NATIVE IN RUSSIAN, may be enjoyed most (imo) by Russian native speakers who want to read this story in English. I could recognize the paragraphs word-by-word.
NOTE: both translations are only about Part I. The part II (the enchanted prince) was only translated in Persian, Tajik, Turkish etc. The book with this tile listed in English online is actually in Russian. Nobody to my knowledge has commissioned the translation of the second part yet.
I re-told it to my kid verbally in English as I remember it pretty much by heart.
I will address Karpelson translation of Nasreddin as (2) and Shebunina translation as (3) (though I think Karpelson is probably did his translation later and could possibly even use (3) as a reference judging by some word overlaps):
1. (3) uses Khodja as it is common in transliteration of Russian letter "x" into English as "kh" in Slavic-English translations, (2) uses Hodja, transliterating the first letter of the name of the main protagonist as "h" according to the Persian, Tajik, Uzbek etc to English tradition, which is probably more accurate to the historic character. Arabic-English practice uses either kh or h.
2. (3) changes the name of the Saint/Holy/Sheikh Ahmed water pool in the middle of Bukhara to a totally different Sheikh, who appears only later in the second (still untranslated) part of the story (about the "enchanted prince" Nasreddin's donkey and the Baghdad Thief).
The word "vodojom" (a pool of water) itself - IF in the city limits - implies a man-made water pool rather than a pond ("prud") as a pond could be man-made but by default in English would associate with a natural body of water.
Also a pond would have a stale water (think frogs and lilies), the pool in the city would imply the place with fresh water, from which people would even fill their drinking pots. (2), fortunately, keeps the name after Sheikh Ahmed, which is correct to both the book text original and the legend.
Both (2) and (3) just say "pond".
3. (2) keeps the correct name of the Baghdad sage as Hussein Huslia, while (3) for no reason changes it to Maulana Husein.
4. Many small - probably, deliberate rather than naturally occurring, to distinguish one translation from another - differences in sound mapping:
djins in (2) vs jins in (3)
Ai-ai-ai in (2) vs Ay-ay-ay in (3)
5. both books for some reason do not use a common in the book, the legend and the practice of the region curse "jackal" ("shakal") - (2) just says "dog" and (3) opts for a "cur".
6. The translators chose to preserve different native terms while mapping others into English.
For example, (3) keeps "khalat" (omitting the implied adjective "vatnyj" but says "village" , while (2) uses a simple word "robe" instead of khalat, but correctly says "kishlak" or "settlement in mountainous region" instead of just saying "village".
"Ishak" is neither "ass" as in (3) nor "donkey" as in (2), it is a special kind of a donkey, used to carry people and loads in the Middle Asia :).
"Padejozh skota" is certainly not a simple "death of cattle" as in (3), "plague of cattle" in (2) is a better fit. However hearing the word "cattle" one mostly would imagine cows, while these were most likely sheep, maybe goats, it has to be clarified. Also "padjozh" is really vivid, one can see the animals falling, while "death" and even "plague" are too general.
7. What is called in elementary schools "vivid words" are certainly picked differently :).
When Guljan is brought to the Emir's palace, "staruhi" (old women in (3) and old hags in (2)) apply some make-up on her.
The word "nasur'mili", a very rich material word which instantly brings to mind the ancient cosmetic stick substance and the process of applying it, rather exotic, is replaced in (3) by a simple verb "blackened" (her eyebrows)... well, they were already black, so (2) does a better job saying they "applied surma to her eyebrows".
None of the translators does good job with "lukavo potupilsja" (about Hodja Nasreddin) nor with "zaunyvnymi zavyvanijami mujezzinov" (not "singing" as in (2) nor even "mournful singing" as in (3)), lots of satire in the choice of words is gone from the translation of this one).
The pompous epithets for Emir are translated in a totally different manner by (2) compare to (3), both rather accurate but creating a different emotional interaction with the text.
8. There are way more typos in the Kindle edition of (3) compare to (2). "Resent" instead of "present" in at least on case, "colour oil of her pinky" instead of "colour of her pinky" etc.
9. It seems (3) tilts more towards British, rather old-British English, and (2) is more contemporary, easy-read US English - but in defence of (3), I think (2) used it among other sources, though I do not know that for a fact.
Even the spelling: colour vs color for e.g.
"queer" in (3) where "wry" or "weird, odd" in (2)
and numerous other sirutaions
10. There is a certain rhythm to the original story. It may be used for other stories, but probably would be most associated with a Middle Asia storytelling or a Middle Eastern text. It is definitely distinguished from a rhythm that, say, a Russian folk tale would have. The rhythm is preserved in (3) but lost in (2), replaced by a natural rhythm of an English-American story.
11. The poems are translated much better in (2) than in (3) (again, to be fair to (3), as there are direct overlaps of some half-verses, perhaps (2) could use (3) and improve upon it).
12. The terms (the trades, the Zodiac) etc are reflected better in (2). Saddler Mamed - would give reader a pause. Saddle-maker Mamed is much easier on eyes. The "sting" was absent from the skies - puzzlement. "The Stinger of Death was absent" - easy to understand.
etc etc etc
Of course I am not a native speaker of English, nor a professional linguist, and this is written ad-hoc, so forgive please my own imprecisions - I hope it helps you still when picking the translation of this truly immortal book which must take its rightful place among the literary translations of the great legends of mankind.
There is the second part of the book, The Enchanted Prince, the translation of which has never been commissioned best to my knowledge - if anybody finds out otherwise, I will be grateful if you drop me a line.
The Tale of Hodja Nasreddin: Disturber of the Peace