Wednesday, April 26, 2006

The Czech Fabric of the Cosmos

My friend Olda Klimánek has translated Brian Greene's book "The Fabric of the Cosmos" into Czech - well, I was checking him a bit, reading his translation twice - and the book was just released by Paseka, a Czech publisher, under the boring name "Struktura vesmíru" (The Structure of the Universe). The other candidate titles were just far too poetic.

I think he is a talented writer and translator and there will surely be many aspects in which his translation is gonna be better than my "Elegantní vesmír" (The Elegant Universe).

What I find very entertaining is the different number of pages of this book (in its standard hardcover editions) in various languages:
  • Czech: Struktura vesmíru, 488 pages
  • Polish: Struktura kosmosu, 552 pages
  • English: The Fabric of the Cosmos, 576 pages
  • Portuguese: O tecido do cosmo, 581 pages
  • Italian: La trama del cosmo, 612 pages
  • French: La magie du Cosmos, 666 pages
  • Korean: 우주의 구조, 747 pages
  • German: Der Stoff, aus dem der Kosmos ist, 800 pages

I am not kidding and as far as I know, Olda's translation is complete. If you need to know, 800/488 = 1.64. ;-) The Czech Elegant Universe was also much shorter than the German one but the ratio was less dramatic.

I like the rigid rules of German but this inflation of the volume is simply off the base. The Czech language has similar grammar rules but it avoids the articles and it has much more free word order. A slightly more complex system of declination removes many prepositions. And Olda may simply be a more concise translator. :-)

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