Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Translated and Foreign Editions of Books, Languages, and YA

Do you ever search for translated or foreign editions of books? When I was in high school, I specifically looked for the French edition of the fourth Harry Potter book. Some other book I'd read suggested that one of the characters was trying to teach his or herself how to read in another language by comparing a book in the language in you already knew to the translated version. And I remember getting so excited because I thought, okay, so you actually like the Harry Potter books. This will help with your French classes and you might actually get to a speaking level of French that's not embarrassing.

It seemed like a decent plan, up until the point when I didn't end up reading the French version or really rereading HP from back to front (I'm a selective rereader; I go to specific scenes I like and that's usually my rereading. Most of the times, these are also the romantic scenes). But I never quite forgot the idea of it, and I find myself wondering whether I ought to try and look for some of my favorite YA books again, find their foreign language counterparts. Is that actually an effective way of learning a language or teaching yourself more of its vocabulary? I haven't spoken French since my sophomore year of college (omg how was that five years ago), but it embarrasses me when I think of this, my inability to speak in other languages. When I went to Japan with my friends last March, I was essentially relying on them to get us to wherever we needed to go. Hello, stereotypical American traveler. Blergh.

But when I'm not thinking about buying the foreign language editions of books, I'm wondering about the sheer lack of translated books in YA. There are very few I can think of. Kiersten Gier's books and Kai Meyer's books, maybe. But what else (if you have any recs, please send them my way! I liked Arcadia Awakens but based off reviews, don't think I'd like the Ruby Red series... so could use some others to read :D)? Why do they get so little attention? Do you know of any translated books? I was also thinking that if they're translated books, they might be more likely to have settings not in the U.S. (e.g. Sicily for Arcadia Awakens). Maybe that's not teaching you the language of that country in the way of the foreign editions, but that would expose you to different customs. It seems like a win-win situation, with a fanbase elsewhere as "evidence" that the book should do well here too. But instead it just feels like another American made bubble.

Why is there such a bubble around the YA market for books? Do you have any recommendations of other translated books? Have you ever purposefully bought a foreign edition of a book? Do you have any tips for finding out more or at least being more aware of when translated books are being published in this market?

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