Lost in Translation…

I was making a start at cleaning out some of the stuff in my office yesterday and came across a bunch of foreign editions of my book Cosmology: A Very Short Introduction. I’d forgotten I had these, and am not even certain what languages they are all in. Is the first in Japanese or Korean? I really can’t remember.






…still, it’s interesting to see how they’ve chosen different covers for the different translations, and at least I know what my name looks like in Russian Bulgarian!

16 Responses to “Lost in Translation…”

  1. The first is Korean.

  2. The second one is not Russian, it’s most likely Bulgarian. In Russian, your name would be “Питер Коулз” or “Питер Коулс”.

    • telescoper Says:

      Oh you’re right! Now I remember it is indeed Bulgarian…

      • Yes, “ъ” is a dead giveaway. In Russian it’s a voiceless “separation sign” that’s normally used between a prefix and a root of a noun; spelling on the cover is weird-looking and most likely illegal. In Bulgarian, it’s a valid vowel, an unstressed “e”.

      • This also gives it away as being Bulgarian and not Macedonian. (The two languages are rather close, about like written Danish and written Norwegian, or spoken Swedish and spoken Norwegian (dialects from the East).) The name Peter sometimes appears transliterated in Cyrillic languages and sometimes without the second “e”. The spelling on the book is probably a compromise.

  3. The third and the fifth are also Slavic languages. The third might be Croatian or Slovenian, the fifth is probably Czech.

  4. The fourth is Dutch, but “the shortest” rather than “a very short”. 🙂

  5. With regard to the Bulgarian, note that the author name is in a sort of pseudo-handwriting font in which the “t” looks like an “m”. In a print font (like the one the title is in), the Cyrillic “t” looks like the Latin “t”.

  6. Note that there are Cyrillic letters which look like Latin letters and are pronounced the same (e.g. T), those which look like Latin letters and are pronounced like other Latin letters (Cyrillic P is pronounced like Latin R), those which look like Latin letters but are pronounced like something else (Macedonian S is pronounced like English DZ). There are also letters which don’t look like Latin letters but are pronounced like some Latin letter (the Slavic equivalent of G looks like a Greek Gamma) and some which are pronounced like something else (the backwards R is pronounced like English “ya”). A consequence is that most “faux Cyrillic” stuff (such as in the movie Borat) would be pronounced quite differently than intended if read in a Cyrillic language.

    Like with Latin alphabets, the exact Cyrillic alphabet varies from language to language.

  7. telescoper Says:

    Readers may have noticed that I deleted some comments. This was because one of the people commenting was using another person’s email address to authenticate himself (without the second person’s knowledge or permission). The fraudulent person is now banned.

  8. Ilian Iliev Says:

    As a Bulgarian myself I can confirm that the second version above is in proper Bulgarian. The letter ъ is pronounced pretty much exactly the same as the second ‘e’ in English.

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