Having trouble reading in English? Then translate it!

Saturday, 14 July 2012


I am reading two books at the moment. One of them is "The West  Rand Jive Cats Boxing Club" by Lauren Liebenberg, and the other is "The Purple Hibiscus" by Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche.

Both authors use non-English words liberally. Liebenberg sprinkles her text with words from Afrikaans and  other South African languages, and Adiche does the same with words from Nigerian local languages. 

In both cases, the use of 'foreign' words helps colour the writing and create the local atmosphere, and maybe also adjusts the pace at which one reads to suit that of the  languages in which the novels' characters speak and think.

Should we bemoan the absence of a glossary in Adiche's book? Does a glossary help to enhance the enjoyment of Liebenberg's book?

My answers are 'no' and 'yes' respectively. 

I find that in Liebenberg's book, I feel compelled to look up each unfamiliar word, and this seriously interrupts the fluency of my reading, and consequently mars  my enjoyment of her book.

In that case, I say Ach, leave the vocabulaire out of your kniga, but make sure that the inclusion of argot does not detract from the oeuvre's Gestalt.

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