I always loved language, the nuance, the detail, the precision. Growing up monolingual, I poured all that love into my mother tongue, reading any book I could get my hands on. Little Women, horror short stories for kids, Stephen King, The Color Purple, The Little Vampire, Jorge Luis Borges, Harry Potter, Phillip Pullman, history textbooks (If I had had a translated bible instead of a Hebrew Torah, I’d have probably given that a go too). It didn’t matter. If it was a story, I was in. As life h...
It didn’t matter. If it was a story, I was in.
As life had it, I ended up running out of books (yes, that happened to people before the advent of ebooks and cheap on-demand printing) so when a classmate taking advanced English lessons (I was only in the Intermediate level, and failing at that) showed me a photocopied edition of a young adult novel, I opened it at once.
It turned out that there was only one word in the entire book I did not recognize. Zillion. This was how I discovered I could read in English.
Well, not really. I actually began reading in English by watching subtitled Japanese anime on the rudimentary internet of the 90s because it was the language with the most subtitles.
When I ran into a word I didn’t know, I’d pause the video and go look it up on an online dictionary (praise to all the lexicographers who got that online dictionaries were a priority!). I’d taken lessons since kindergarten, but that would be like saying I could swim because I visited the ocean every summer; it wasn’t until English became the medium of stories that I truly fell in love.
Back then, I didn’t even think of bilingual editions, but I would have given anything to get my hands on one. Okay, more like 50.
Imagine instead of having to look up each word I didn’t know, I could have just simply glanced across the page? Sure, ebook apps and readers give you the chance to look up words in a dictionary in the app itself but even then, you need to scroll through definitions until you get to the right one. Sometimes there doesn’t seem to be anything that matches.
Automatic translation is quite far from matching a real person capable of translating the nuances and context of one language into another. It’ll probably get close enough one day but the romantic language lover in me doesn’t really believe anything automatic can reach for the poetry of a turn of phrase built in a human brain.
Romantic, yeah. That’s why I created Bilingual Romances¸ a collection of bilingual editions of romance novels (Right now, classics and poetry make up the majority of bilingual editions), growing each day in the number of both languages and authors it includes. I write LGBTQ+ (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Trans Queer) romance so it’s heavy on that, but there is a bit of everything. There is also some variety when it comes to language: German, French, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese.