The OF Blog: I own/have read more translations of this book than any other, including the Bible

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

I own/have read more translations of this book than any other, including the Bible

Ever since I first read it in 2000,I have been a fan of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's Le Petit Prince.  Not only do I find its messages to be ones worth considering, I have long used it as a means of comparing translations and to teach myself how to read, albeit just a teeny-tiny bit in some cases, other languages.  Below are pictures of 13 editions that I currently own in print (the final picture shows the cover of the 14th, which shipped from Pakistan earlier this week), as well as other editions that I managed to get as e-books.

I'll list the languages in the captions, then briefly state whether or not I was able to understand the dialogue without the help of another edition/dictionary.

Serbian and French editions
I now know enough Serbian as to be able to understand the gist of the chapters.  The French I understood probably 80-90% of the sentences without needing any assistance.

Most recent English translation and Spanish edition
Both of these I understood completely with no need of any assistance (I would hope so for my native and second languages!).

German and Italian editions
I'm rusty with my German, so I probably only got about 50-60% comprehension unaided.  The Italian was better, at around the same rate as the French, maybe slightly higher.

Latin and Irish Gaelic editions
I had two years of college Latin and I understood almost all of it without assistance.  The Irish, however, I could only understand a few words here and there and I depended upon other editions to read it.

Hindi and Hungarian editions
I only received the Hindi translation today, but considering that I don't even know the alphabet yet, I will need a lot of study before I can compare it to other editions.  I only know a few words in Hungarian, so I read this one while alternating sentences with other editions.

Catalan and Portuguese editions

I needed no assistance in understanding either of these translations.

Zulu translation
I learned a few words while comparing this to another translation, but by itself, no comprehension at all.
Basque translation
See above.

Quechua translation
I knew a few words in Quechua, but that was about it.  Read in tandem with another translation.
Lithuanian edition
Very surprisingly, I understood about 10-20% of what I was reading, but I still needed lots of assistance.

Russian edition
Just as surprising was my realization that I understood over a quarter of what I read before I compared it to another translation.

Romanian edition
Unlike other Romance language editions, I needed some help in understanding it, but I did understand about 40-50% of the passages unaided.

Polish translation
Out of the Slavic languages I read, Polish was by far the hardest for me.  Full assistance needed.

Venetian edition
The Venetian translation is so close in places to standard Italian that I had little difficulty in understanding it unaided.

Czech translation

The Czech translation was surprisingly easy for me; I understood almost as much as the Serbian and I hadn't ever really looked at that language!

Brazilian Portuguese edition
I found the Brazilian Portuguese edition to be easier than the Portuguese one, plus it seemed to be more faithful to the original French.

Urdu translation
I'm still awaiting my copy, but I know I'll need assistance, as while I know most of the Perso-Arabic alphabet, there's a lot more to learn before I could even hope to do comparisons of words with other translations.


Gabriele C. said...

Is there an Esperanto translation? That could be fun to compare.

You also should add the Scandinavian languages and Greek to your collection. :-)

Larry Nolen said...

There is, but it'll be a while before I buy it. Others are also future buys. Want at least one from each I-E branch.

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