German classic released in Hoklo

The goal was to translate the “Grimms fairy tales” as close to the original as possible while playing on Hoklo’s characteristics, the translator said.

  • By Kayleigh Madjar / Editor-in-Chief, with CNA

Linguists at National Cheng Kung University on Wednesday released a bilingual version of Grimm’s fairy tales in German and Hoklo (commonly known as Taiwanese), with voice recordings accessible via a QR code.

Grimm’s Fairy Tales, a German collection of around 300 stories published in the 19th century, has been translated into more than 100 languages ​​around the world.

Hoklo is now joining the list thanks to a project led by Tan Le-kun (陳麗君), associate professor in the university’s Taiwanese literature department.

The project, funded by the Rotary Club and with Avant Garde Publishing as a printing partner, aims to translate children’s books into Hoklo to promote language education.

The fairy tale collection is the first in the series, followed by bilingual versions of French, Japanese, Russian, Vietnamese and American classics, among others, the university said.

“If language is a vehicle for culture, then writing is a repository for its dissemination,” Tan said.

Hopefully the availability of literature can help Hoklo take root as a language and no longer be treated as just a source of slang, she added.

The book features favorite stories, including “Little Red Riding Hood,” “Rapunzel,” “Cinderella,” “The Frog Prince,” and “Hansel and Gretel,” in Chinese characters and Roman script.

Each story has a QR code link to a recording of a professional reading the story in Hoklo.

Chiu Wei-hsin (邱偉欣), a doctoral student in the department who studied at a German university for another doctorate in biology, translated the volume.

In the world of Chinese writing, saturated with rewritings and adaptations, most of the works encountered diverge from the original, he said.

Chiu said he wanted to create something as close to the German version as possible so that readers can feel the spirit of the original, while also bringing Hoklo’s creative translation ability to use.

The illustrator of the book, Aya Kondo, lives in Japan and is the granddaughter of famous expert Hoklo Ong Iok-tek (王育德).

It was a pleasure to be involved in meaningful work related to Hoklo, Kondo said, adding that she couldn’t wait for the next collaboration.

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