English translation

What do you think of the English translation of the books in the Millennium-series?

Posted by Editor in Stockholm, Sweden , 17 November 2008

By Editor

101 thoughts on “English translation”
  1. I can’t say I minded the translation at all. I would imagine that any translation is bound to have some clunky parts, but I would also hope that we Americans have enough intelligence to figure out British English. Overall, good translation and I can’t wait to get a hold of the second book!

    Posted by Beth in Chicago, IL ,

  2. I am reading the first book and am impressed with how well it is translated. It can no be easy to translate and continue to keep the story intact and as awesome as this one. Hats off to the translator Keeland!

    Posted by Laurie in Missoula, MT ,

  3. I am not impressed by this translation. Sometimes I struggle to understand the English sentence, but it helpes to translate each individual word into Swedish. Some sayings have perfectly fine equivolents in English but instead of considering the context, the translator has translated each word. I can imagine how people who do not understand Swedish might struggle.

    Posted by Pernille in London ,

  4. Just finished “The Girl . . . ” and had no problem with the English translation. Can’t wait to start the second book. I agree, too, would/will make a fantastic film . . . in the right hands.

    Posted by susan in cleveland heights, OH ,

  5. The English translation is BRITISH English (so far) gaol=jail etc.

    Posted by jimblevins in Cleveland Heights ,

  6. I have just read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo in English and loved the book. There are a few parts that could be a bit better in the translation but it in no way detracted from a very good read. I watched the Wallander series because I also love Henning Mankel books and hope the same might happen with the Millennium trilogy.

    Posted by Sheila in Edinburgh, Scotland ,

  7. I agree with Sheila above. I have just finished The Girl Who Played With Fire, and not being able to compare with the Swedish original, I must say I think it is a terrific book. It does not matter that I am not familiar with the places. Just an amazing series. I cannot wait for the third one to come out in the English translation. Hurry please.

    Posted by Di in Exeter, UK ,

  8. I think the English translation was pretty good. I didn’t read the book, instead, I was listening to the audio book version narrated by Simon Vance, who also did a wonderful job. To be fair, to can you expect a translated version better than the original language?

    Posted by new lasson fan in Iowa, US. ,

  9. Play nice, David in Melbourne. Americans who read know what a gaol is and enjoy a good story as well as anyone anywhere else in the world. Many of us are also sensitive to the issues discussed in the book regardless of our countries’ reputation.

    Posted by Linda in Tampa, USA ,

  10. I have just finished listening to the excellent (but abridged) Fire audiobook read in English by Martin Wenner. He does a super job and thankfully uses the correct Swedish pronunciation for Swedish names and places, as well as convincing voices for all the characters. Salander is given a somewhat Cockney accent which is entirely appropriate under the circumstances of having to find an English voice for a Swedish character. As a frequent visitor to Sweden, it was a delight to hear so many familiar place names. I listened to the first and second books in my car and found myself driving to work more slowly just so I could hear more of the story each day. Can’t wait for the third volume…

    Posted by The Viscount in Northants, England ,

  11. I finished the first book but this one was in Dutch, called Mannen die vrouwen haten. The translation was very good and it was very enjoyable to read the books. I bought the two other books in Schiphol airport and look forward reading them in the near future

    Posted by Rosie in Brighton, UK ,

  12. I’m a translator of Swedish who has only read ‘Dragon Tattoo’ in English. A cracking read (can’t wait for the other two, and I’ll try to read them all in Swedish sometime), and I thought the translation read well, but off the top of my head: St Albans is not a suburb of London, why leave ‘tunnelbana’ in Swedish, and when Lisbeth sees an inter-continental roar past on the E4, what on earth is she looking at?!!

    Posted by Ivor in Brussels ,

    1. I think what the author was getting at was a reference back to the LAST time Lisbeth saw a truck on the E4 – and that was when Martin drove his car full speed into one.

      So seeing the “intercontinental” is probably a trigger, and it brings her back to that moment – and probably rattles her. And I imagine the intention was to rattle some perspective into the reader as well.

  13. Hi Beth in Chicago and Laurie in Missoula, and thanks for the compliments! Ivor, glad you liked my translation — please don’t blame me for the occasional weird British term, I translated the books into American English! Good thing I did leave “tunnelbana” — if I’d said “subway” I’m sure it would have been changed to “tube”. And Lisbeth’s term for Mikael is “Kalle F—ing Blomkvist”, not “Kalle Bastard Blomkvist”, for God’s sake. Stieg had an obvious fondness for U.S. English and used lots of American phrases in the book (now invisible when not surrounded by Swedish), so the present version does sound to me like a different book — still good, but not quite the same as I experienced it in my head. I’m guessing an inter-continental is a big rig, a honkin’ 18-wheeler on the E4 freeway. Sorry the Americans have to wait the longest to read books 2 and 3, but they were slow on the uptake and the Brits beat ‘em to it. Check out my blog for more info on Stieg and the books and translating in general.

    Posted by Reg Keeland in Albuquerque ,

    1. Hi, Reg! Thank You so much for translating The Millenium Trilogy into English: I can’t imagine how difficult this must have been and what a length of time this must have taken. I am grateful to you, though, because I am enjoying them tremendously. My Swedish friend who gave the three books to me said I wouldn’t be able to put them down, and she was so right!!! I have just two minor questions. What do the Roman numerals underneath the chapter numbers/titles mean? Also, periodically I will see an asterisk but am unable to find the corresponding reference point. They aren’t “biggies” In the whole scheme of things, but I want to make sure I’m not missing anything. Thanks so much again!!

  14. As a translator myself (I spent last week on “Horreur Boréale”, a French documentary on the trilogy), I’ve read the first two in English, the first in French and I’m looking for the third in French as I type. Sold out locally. Steven, you did a great job. I’d have been horrified to see ‘tunnelbana’ as ‘tube’, and in general I prefer a translation that leaves as many original references as possible, couched in enough context to be obvious. I’ll be needing them all when I visit Stockholm later in the year… Keep up the good work!

    Posted by Henry Moon in Paris ,

  15. I just finished the first book, and I thought it one of the best I have read

    in eons. I am sad that Stieg died so young – how many more great books might he have written? We Americans are not dolts, and we can figure out tunnelbana and gaol, but I wondered about the intercontinental. I look forward to reading the other 2 books.

    Posted by Alison Gonzalez in St. Louis ,

  16. I just finished reading the first two books. In fact was so taken by the first I ordered the second from the UK, so far has not made it to the US. I usually don’t like books that are translated but found this one teriffic. What a great read and I do know what a gaol is….and liked that not all words were literally translated. I finished the second book in one weekend and liked it better than the first.

    Posted by H. van Raan in New York, New York ,

  17. I just finished “Dragon Tattoo” and loved it. As I read I thought about the the translation, and a bit about translations in general. I should say that I am a fairly typical reader living in the heart of the heart of darkness in rural Missouri. I speak no languages other than English (or what passes for English in these parts). I have never visited Northern Europe or England. Though my eye caught on most of the phrases others have mentioned, I knew perfectly well what a gaol is and could make a comfortable guess at most everything else. The Kindle’s dictionary is handy, too.

    As I don’t read Swedish, I can’t guess at how well the translation compares to the original. Though the language is not perfect, my guess was that this is a better than average translation. It read much better than many novels by American authors.

    I did have a couple of small problems, however. Many (all ?) of the distances referred to in the translation were in ‘yards’ and temperatures were in Fahrenheit units. I doubt this was the case in the original. I did learn metric units from the third grade on, a hard time avoiding the feeling that I am being condescended to with this kind of ‘americanization’ of a text. I suppose that it is inevitable.

    My other quibble is that I found one sentence late in the story referring to the quality of Mikeal’s book painful: “It was uneven stylistically, and in places the writing was actually rather poor – there had been no time for any polishing – but the book was animated by a fury that no reader could help but notice.” And ironic. Where is an editor when you *need* one?

    Overall, I really enjoyed the book, and the translation served me well.

    Posted by D. Witten in Columbia, Missouri ,

  18. Hi to all lucky you out there who have the advantage and choice of translation. Unfortunately for me, English is the only language for me, so I probably have to make it. But hey, I guess ignorance is bliss.S ince I can’t compare between versions, the “lapses” in tranlsation doesn’t show up for me. Anyway, the story is great and I just got my hands on “The girl who played with fire”. Too bad I have to wait till 2010 for book 3, unless I master Swedish before that!

    Posted by Jacquelyn in Singapore ,

  19. Just finished “The Girl with……..” and found it a very exciting work. I will read the other two in the trilogy as soon as I can get my hands on them.I think the criticism of the translation is picayune. What literate American does not know what “goal” is ?

    Posted by Elaine B in New York City ,

  20. So Reg Keeland translated the book into American English? Since when do Americans ‘repair to Spain’? (page 121); Do they still say ‘forsooth’? (page 124); Does “dark” fall there, whereas in the UK “darkness” falls, or “night falls”? (page 134); Do people in the US see the following as normal “even as he reached for the door handle?” (page 138); I suggest that “just as he reached” would be a better translation. And please tell me what a “brutal domestic” is (page 80)? Here’s the context: “Worse than their straitened circumstances, Richard was a brutal domestic. He beat his wife and abused his son.”

    “Sawn out” is the correct past participle form in UK English; Keeland uses “sawed out” on page 84, as a passive. Is this OK in US English?

    Page 13 has an interesting expression: “They had their first quarrel, then others, and anon the antagonism turned personal”. “Anon”?

    Somewhere in this book (I don’t remember the page; all other references are to my MacLehose 2008 edition.) Keeland writes “alight”, as in get off a train. Is this modern US usage?

    Keeland was not the best translator of Mankell’s books and it’s a pity that a better translator couldn’t be found for the Millenium Trilogy. Everyone agrees that translation is not easy, but some of these mistakes (I could offer more examples) reek of sloppiness.

    Posted by mike pritchard in barcelona ,

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