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‘Asterix’ French Bestseller Comics, Now Available For Hindi Readers

"We talk of warfare, historical hostilities, cultural chauvinism. The comic has strategies, cultural superiority and talking down to the Germanic tribes or Romans. This kind of a comic has a universal resonance.

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"There are so many cultural references. You have to find equivalent Hindi words, terminology, proverbs, jokes, songs. There is Latin used as well," Gupta, who also translated 'The Adventures of Tintin', said. Pixabay

By: Siddhi Jain

Launched in 1959, the French comic classic ‘Asterix’ boasts having sold an unmatched 370 million copies in more than 100 languages. After capturing the global comics market, the series is now available for Hindi readers – after five years of painstaking translation.

The Hindi translation of the first four albums of the ‘Asterix’ series was released here on Thursday by French Ambassador Alexandre Ziegler, who called the comics’ total of 33 albums “a monument of French pop culture” and “opportunity to learn not French, but about the French (people).”

The series follows the adventures of a group of Gallic villagers as they resist Roman occupation in 50 BCE. It was originally written by Rene Goscinny and illustrated by Albert Uderzo.

Published by Om Books International, the “albums”, as they are called, were co-translated by Dipa Chaudhuri and Puneet Gupta beginning from 2014. Sharing that translating each album took at least 6-8 months, the task was “not merely a word-to-word translation”.

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Besides finding the right word, we had to find the right length, because there were speech bubbles.  Pixaba

“There are so many cultural references. You have to find equivalent Hindi words, terminology, proverbs, jokes, songs. There is Latin used as well,” Gupta, who also translated ‘The Adventures of Tintin’, said.

Explained his French-speaking co-translator Chaudhuri: “There was a huge translator’s block when we started. It wasn’t just any translation. These were graphic novels and the graphic form imposes a lot of restrictions as to how you can translate.

“Besides finding the right word, we had to find the right length, because there were speech bubbles. The Hindi script practically is much longer than the French. There are matras on the top, side and bottom, whereas in French they are only on top. We couldn’t be waffling with the translation,” Chaudhuri added.

What the translators also has to be mindful of is that each language has its own aural space and one size does not fit all.

“While you’d hit a person with a ‘Paff’ in French, it’ll be ‘Bang’ in English and ‘Thak’ in Hindi,” Gupta expalined, adding that they identified a 100 sounds in four of the 33 albums.

The French equivalent of the India’s iconic ‘Chacha Chaudhary’ comics or ‘Amar Chitra Katha’, ‘Asterix’ is a journey into French mindsets and is widely translated and adapted into animated films, video games, live action films, and even theme parks.

The translators shared an interesting anecdote while preparing the Hindi comic.

“They’ve used the (military) terms decurion and centurion. We couldn’t have used ‘major’ or ‘colonel’. So we had to come up with ‘dashpati’ and ‘shatpati’ for commanders of 10 and 100 soldiers,” Gupta said.

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The series follows the adventures of a group of Gallic villagers as they resist Roman occupation in 50 BCE. It was originally written by Rene Goscinny and illustrated by Albert Uderzo. Pixabay

“We called up people in the armed forces and asked them how they’d say this.”

Asked if they came across similarities between the Indo-French cultures, Chaudhari said that while there are culturally distinct experiences, human experiences remain the same.

“We talk of warfare, historical hostilities, cultural chauvinism. The comic has strategies, cultural superiority and talking down to the Germanic tribes or Romans. This kind of a comic has a universal resonance.

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Added Gupta: “Human emotions of fear, hatred, faith, satire and greed transcend time and culture. All these emotions are depicted here and one can correlate.”

The translation rights were acquired by publisher Ajay Mago from the French Hachette Livre after over 5 years of negotiations.

The first four albums are priced at Rs 295 and are available online at Amazon and Flipkart, as also offline. (IANS)

Next Story

Smartphones Take Away Books From People Of Taiwan

Excluding those who read comic books, magazines or digital books, about 40.8 per cent of those surveyed said they read no print book in 2018, according to the survey on people's reading behaviour by the United Daily News's Vision Project.

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10.7 per cent said they had no such book-reading habit, further analysis by the survey found. Pixabay

More than one-fifth of people in Taiwan did not read a single book last year as smartphones, tablets and computers take up most people’s time, according to a survey.

Excluding those who read comic books, magazines or digital books, about 40.8 per cent of those surveyed said they read no print book in 2018, according to the survey on people’s reading behaviour by the United Daily News’s Vision Project.

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About 20.6 per cent of respondents who read no books last year said they simply didn’t like reading and 10.7 per cent said they had no such book-reading habit, further analysis by the survey found. Pixabay

According to the research, 1,556 respondents were surveyed from December 28, 2018 to January 3, 2019, Xinhua news agency reported.

Of those respondents who read no print books last year, about one-third of them said the last time they read a print book was one to three years ago. Another 20 per cent said their last book reading occurred more than 10 years ago.

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40 per cent said they had no time for reading or that reading took up too much time, it said. Pixabay

About 20.6 per cent of respondents who read no books last year said they simply didn’t like reading and 10.7 per cent said they had no such book-reading habit, further analysis by the survey found.

And 40 per cent said they had no time for reading or that reading took up too much time, it said.

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Among those who read print books, about one third spent one to three hours a week reading and 14 per cent spent three to five hours a week reading, 12 per cent spent more than nine hours a week reading, according to the survey. (IANS)