22 January 2009

Reg Keeland on the blogosphere

Hello all you readers of Stieg Larsson in English! Reg Keeland here, and I've finally figured out how to blog. I welcome any comments or questions you might have about the Millennium series, and I'll do my best to answer them. Languages that are welcome on this blog are English, Swedish, Danish, Norwegian, German, and Spanish, but I'll usually be replying in English.

Step right up, and let the blogging begin!


  1. Hi Reg,

    Thanks for starting this blog.

    I've read bits here and there about the U.K. vs. the U.S. editions of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and The Girl Who Played With Fire. I understand that you were not happy with the way the U.K. edition was edited. Can you be more explicit about the differences between the editions, why you think one is better at conveying Larsson's intent?

  2. Welcome to blogging Reg. I do hope you and Tina can come to Crime Fest in May. I am sure I am speaking for many other fans of all the books you have both translated not only the Millennium trilogy. The list of books reads like a Hall of Fame of Scandinavian crime.

  3. Hello Reg.
    Pleased to meet you in the blogging world which is also fairly new to me.
    I should like to know approximately when the English version of "Luftkastellet der blev sprængt" will be published (so I can time my review :))

  4. Hi Dorte, I presume book 3 (still not sure of what the title will be, although I've heard THE GIRL WHO KICKED THE HORNETS' NEST, though what that has to do with castles in the air I don't know) will be published first week of January 2010 in the UK, and August 2010 in the US, unless Quercus and Knopf decide to speed up their schedule. Thanks for dropping by, and I'm amazed to get responses 2 hours after I started this blog. Where was the Net when I was in school?

  5. Welcome to blogging, Reg. What book(s) are you translating at the moment? Any tips for what we should be looking forward to (apart from Stieg #3 that is!)?

    By the way, the blog Petrona you have so kindly put in your sidebar is a very old version of my current blog - the correct URL is http://petrona.typepad.com/petrona/ if you don't mind updating it sometime.

    Welcome again to the blogosphere. Look forward to reading your posts on translations.

  6. Hi Uriah, we're working on the plane ticket from the middle of the desert, trying to find the optimal cost/time parameters. I'll be posting a link to my bookshelf of translations as soon as I can figure out how. Enjoying your blog immensely.

  7. Hi Maxine, I fixed the link (I think). Right now I'm working on Jan Guillou's THE TEMPLAR KNIGHT, book 2 in his Crusades series, about a knight who later plays a big role in the founding of a unified Sweden, introduces Arabian horses to the North, and brings the first Saracen immigrants to Scandinavia. Kind of a change of pace for me.

  8. Hi Mack, where are you located? Did you read the Quercus or Knopf versions? I think I'll save my comments on this issue for private emails and for CrimeFest. Suffice it to say that TGWTDT sounds like a different book to me.

  9. Thanks so much Reg. Karen is incredible finding your blog so quickly. I have been blogging for over two years and I still can't get all the clever stuff that other bloggers feature. It must be my age.

  10. Hi Reg,
    I'm in the U.S.

    I suspected that might be your preference. :) I'm sure I can get someone who attends CrimeFest to fill me in.

    With TGWTDT I purchased the Knopf edition and also listened to it as an Audible download.

    With TGWPWF I couldn't wait until the July U.S. publication since it is being discussed everywhere now and ordered the U.K. ed.

  11. Thanks, Reg. I will keep an eye out for the Guillou. Maybe at some point you will also reveal what Tiina is translating also - as a keen reader of Mari Jungstedt.

    When I checked out the Quercus "Girl who played with Fire" website the other day, it indicated that Stieg#3 would be published in England in Autumn 09, so I hope we do not have to wait as long as Jan 10, though I know that was the old intention.

    Yes, the internet is truly great. Dear Karen of EuroCrime alerted some of us to your welcome blog via our Friend Feed discussion group, which you are very welcome to join, at http://friendfeed.com/rooms/crime-and-mystery-fiction.

  12. Don't talk to me about age, I'm just hitting my stride when I should be retiring... Just started learning this stuff this morning. But then I used to be a typographer and technical translator back in the day. Crime fiction is definitely more fun.

  13. Mack, the ordering of the posts and comments is weird, I guess it goes by time stamp, right?

    On your audiobook, it's exactly the same as the UK one, I'm pretty sure. Is the last word "skip"? Anyway, I listened to about 7 chapters of it and thought it was extremely well done. Fortunately it was abridged, which obviated most of my quibbles with the editing. A great job but I came away feeling that it was a different book. Especially when Lisbeth had a down-home London accent.

    I hear that Hollywood may want to make a US production out of the book(s), so that should give us something to compare. I certainly don't think Noomi What's-Her-Name looks anything like Lisbeth should. Too old, too "pretty", and weighs too much. Another casting debacle reminiscent of SMILLA'S SENSE OF SNOW (my wife's translation), which more or less kicked off the Scandinavian crime boom back in the '90s.

    I can see why you didn't want to wait. Publishers can be so cruel, insisting on marketing a hardback for a year before the next installment comes out! But I'm hoping that there will be more American lingo in Knopf's book 2. Fodder for years of masters' theses to come.

  14. Hej igen, Dorte, vidste sgu ikke at du boede i Thy! Min kone har oversat NIELS LYHNE og vi gjorde engang en pilgrimage til alle de berømte jacobsenske steder i Thisted. Det var sandeme imponerende, må jeg sige -- især hans chaise longue og brillerne. Velkommen til samtalen!

  15. Hey Maxine, Tiina's next book comes out in June: THE LIBRARY OF SHADOWS by Mikkel Birkegaard. A very good first novel, slightly paranormal thriller, big seller in Denmark. A fun read. Right now she's working on a monster biography of a Swedish mathematician, written in Norwegian with all the quotations in Swedish, so it's a confusing job. Also forthcoming this year is THE HURRICANE PARTY by Klas Östergren from Canongate.

    My latest coming out this spring are THE PREACHER by Camilla Läckberg, THE ROAD TO JERUSALEM by Jan Guillou, and SHADOW by Karin Alvtegen (translated by McKinley Burnett) -- rated from best to worst when it comes to editors preserving my style.

  16. Maxine, help! I signed up for your friendfeed and totally screwed it up. How can I cancel it and start over? Thanks.

  17. Tak, Reg.
    Jo, jeg er skam gymnasielærer i Thisted. Burde ikke fortælle, at jeg underviser i engelsk, for så vil du ikke være nær så imponeret af, at jeg blogger på to sprog, som alle mine andre gæster :(
    Hvordan/hvorfor har du lært dansk, for øvrigt?
    - lidt nysgerrig er man vel.

  18. RE: Audio version of TGWTDT

    Reg, I listened to the unabridged version which isn't a bad way to get through all the family history stuff. I was having dental work done which helped focus the mind wonderfully.

    The last word in both the Audible download and my print Knopf version is "dumpster." "...she threw Elvis in the dumpster."

    I didn't mind Lisbeth's London accent. It is pretty common in audio books and movies to give someone who is supposed to be speaking a foreign language an English accent. I'm pretty sure all ancient Romans spoke with English accents. :)

  19. Hi Dorte, I don't want to leave out the rest of the readers, so I'll write in English. You ask, how did I learn Danish?

    After studying Latin (why?) and German in high school, and continuing with German at Stanford, I went to the overseas campus in Beutelsbach near Stuttgart for 6 months. Coming home on a student ship (!) from Rotterdam I met a bunch of kids from San Francisco State College who'd been studying in Scandinavia. From what they told me about it, it was total immersion in the language, unlike my German experience where all the Americans lived together and had to leave on the weekend to go out and practice German in real life.

    I went on the Scandinavian Seminar the next year, which was not really an "exchange" program, because nobody went the other direction. The group of about a hundred students spent a couple of weeks in intensive language training at Holbæk Højskole (featuring teachers such as poets Poul Borum and Inger Christensen -- I still recall them donning their leathers and setting off one evening on their motorcycle for Copenhagen to see the Stones -- and this was 1964) and then dispersed to live with families in the 4 Scandinavian countries, ostensibly for more language practice. Unfortunately I got sent to a farm in eastern Jutland (Hornsyld) that just wanted spare hands for the hay harvest. After a few weeks there learning the local dialect, which would come in handy later in Copenhagen, I was sent off to Krogerup Folk High School in Humlebæk to attend the most intellectual school in the whole system.

    The experience of learning a language by total immersion is about as close as you can come to starting over at age 2. People treat you according to what you can say, not what you can understand (which is always much more). So for a couple of months I would go to the daily assembly and sing songs in Danish or Swedish that I barely understood, then listen to a lecture by some visiting bigwig that I understood even less. The sensation was of words literally flying "over my head." But like snowflakes they eventually started to stick, and soon I found myself dreaming in Danish -- and not understanding the words in the dream either! But my brain had duly recorded them and was playing them back.

    Because I was the only one in the group who had studied German instead of languages like French or Spanish that were relatively useless in Scandinavia in those days, I picked it up faster, and in about 3 months I could pretty much figure out how to say anything in a roundabout way. My big breakthrough came when sitting around in someone's dorm room trying to tell "elephant jokes" (remember those, anyone?) in Danish. With the help of a few beers we were all cracking up at my wacky mistakes. [Hvorfor går elefanter med røde gummisko på? For at kunne skjule sig i kirsebærtræerne.]

    By that time I was participating more in classes, doing book reports in Danish because my teacher in Danish class (poet Erik Knudsen) would assign me to read the English books. Always a translation nut, I started attempting to translate poems into and out of Danish. As Per Olov Enquist once wrote in Lewis resa, "Poetry differed from prose in that it had shorter sentences and was written by slackers." I recall Wallace Stevens being particularly hard, no slacker he.

    And my film and Nordic literature teacher (the great Niels Jensen) was screening the best of European cinema for his class in many languages. We all trekked up to the local cinema in Espergærde one evening and had to sit through "Last Year at Marienbad" with actors that all looked like Giacometti sculptures because the theater didn't have the right lens.

    Fortunately Krogerup is located right across the Sound from Helsingborg, Sweden, which was a favorite destination on Saturdays. I learned to understand spoken skånska, the southern Swedish dialect, fairly well. And then Niels Jensen started us reading books in Swedish!

    [to be continued, if anyone's interested]

  20. Hi Mack, Don't the ancient Romans usually speak posh? Lisbeth sounds more like the English reporters on CNN.

    Odd that the same actor seems to have done the US audio as well, or inserted American "corrections." My abridged version ends with "skip." And I tend to prefer Don Henley or Cuban music for trips to the dentist.

  21. Reg, I AM INTERESTED :)
    Now I am slightly younger than you so I do not recall much about 1964. Still, I probably spoke better Danish than you - anyone in my family would tell you I spoke far too much. Dialect, by the way, "Vendelbomål", my first language. I kindly visited an old neighbour, and when I came home I asked my mother what a chatterbox was (sludrechatol) :)

  22. I forgot to translate the elephant joke: Why do elephants wear red tennis shoes? So they can hide in the cherry trees.

    Vendsyssel -- now that's not an area I've been to very often, though on our honeymoon Tiina and I did stay at the hotel in Skagen where Jens Peter Jacobsen used to drink with his literary buddies. And we ate at the same table. [For extra credit: read Tiina's translation of Niels Lyhne in Penguin Classics.]

    Gotta get back to work...

  23. Hi Reg - thank you for setting up this blog - translators are the great under-thanked people of the crime fiction world, without you we'd not be able to read so many tremendous books (and welcome to blogging - but don't worry about not being able to find anything, I can't remember where I put my own site some days! :) )

  24. This is very nice, but also getting a little silly. We're all the same people meeting at each other's blogs.

    Reg, I wrote something about 'spoken skånska' in my church newsletter the other week, which was about my then very young half-English son wondering if the man from Skåne, who had just chatted to us was American. Same difference...

  25. I don't really get what your point is. How many people do you expect are interested in these matters anyway? It beats writing about what you had for lunch or "the time the doorknob broke". [Door prize for anyone who can tell me the title and songwriter of that quote.]

  26. The point was amusement at how we sort of meet up in different places. I think a lot of people are interested, but won't know where to look, or haven't found this very new blog yet.

    I agree that finding out other people's daily routines and latest operations can be boring. Though feel free to tell us about your day. It'd be interesting to see how much you read, and for how long you slave over your computer, and so on.

  27. Hi bookwitch, sorry I misunderstood the tenor of your comment! Today I spent most of my time working on editing Tiina's sample translation for a series of crime novels. Hope we get it. That would help keep the recession at bay.

    Went out for Mexican lunch with my 80-year-old Hispanic friend Benito, santero and hojalatero. The chile rellenos were OK, but the beans tasted like they were out of a can. Scratch that restaurant. There are too many good Mexican and New Mexican restaurants in Albuquerque to go back to a mediocre one.

    I have a minor operation coming up next month but I won't bore you with it.

    I only slaved over the computer for an hour today -- my bad. Usually only have time to read for fun at night, but I "waste" a lot of it writing comments in blogs. Right now I'm enjoying J.G. Ballard's memoir immensely. If anyone knows him, please give him my highest fan regards and thanks for all the great books over the years. I was lucky enough to hear him read at Elliott Bay Books in Seattle back in the 80s.

    And the winner of the door prize is... Drew in Washington, DC. He gets a fresh copy of THE ICE PRINCESS by Camilla Läckberg for correctly identifying the line by Bob Dylan from "Desolation Row." I'll have to pick a harder one next time.

  28. Hi Reg, I followed your trail from the post on DBB.
    I won't have many chances to read your works- the Millenium trilogy has already been translated in Italian and in general translations from Scandinavia are more numerous and quicker than in the English speaking world (though the success of Stieg Larsson may change that) -but since I've seen you and your wife are both accomplished multilingual translators I'd like to ask you how you deal with gergal expressions and dialects, especially in cases in which they do indicate regional differences, but not really differences in education or social class in the context of the broader milieu.
    I'm also thinking of the difficulty in translating both complex expressions which are specific to a determinate region and simple spelling/pronunciation alterations.
    Do you make use of dialects in the target language?
    Maybe this could be the topic of a future post.

    I'd also like to ask you how much time do you need for the average translation - months, hours and pages per day, and if you subdivide the work in several blocks or you do a quick draft translation of the entire work and then start fine-tuning it into the final texts.
    In short, a description of all the phases of your work - this could be the subject of another post.

    Ciao e grazie


  29. Ciao Marco, some great questions! I'll start a new post tonight and address some of the nuts and bolts of translating. On dialects, one of the legendary fiascos in translation, imho, was perpetrated by the Norwegian translator of The Color Purple, who elected to reproduce Black English by using a Norwegian dialect from the far north of the country. We usually try to suggest dialect, in the rare instances it occurs, through diction rather than goofy spelling, which is just irritating to read. More later, stay tuned. Where are you, Torino, Genova? (I grew up in a Genovese neighborhood in Oakland, California.)

  30. I'm from Aulla, in the north of Tuscany close to the border with Liguria,though I also have lived in Pisa and Florence.
    My dialect is a mix between Tuscan and southern Ligurian, some similarities with Genovese but not many- the traditional cuisine however contemplates some classic Genovese dishes like Farinata or Pasta al Pesto.

  31. Hey, we drove right past there on the A15 in Dec. '98, after a quick trip to Toscana to get away from the Norwegian winter.

  32. Hi Reg,

    I just stumbled over your blog by accident. I'm enjoying your Steig Larsson translations immensely. I've been devoted to Swedish crime since my first brush with Martin Beck. What is it about Swedish crime literature that lends itself so well (or so it seems to my English-only brain) to the English language? Looking forward to Millenium III. Are you coming over to any of the festivals in the UK in the next year?

  33. Hi Reg,
    I think your blog is very insightful, for someone who knows zero about translation!
    I attended a few events on translation in London in June of this year. These were attended by, Anthea bell, Ann Mclean, Daniel hahn and Frank Wynne.
    It was interesting to hear that no one seemed to set out to be translators, as there were no literary translator courses available!

    I too would also like to know if you will be travelling to the U.K. again?
    Kind Regards

  34. Hi Jacqueline, Nice to hear from you, and Tiina and I are both admirers of Anthea Bell's excellent work from German. I don't know the other translators you mentioned.

    I may have set out to be a translator, having done it for fun since high school. I did major in Creative Writing at Stanford and took lots of German classes, but I was totally clueless about how to get anything published. Little did I know that there wasn't much market for the kind of oddball avant-garde fiction I preferred to do back then -- Peter Seeberg, Villy Sørensen, Sven Holm, and even Hjalmar Söderberg from the 1890s. I did translate a whole short novel by Ebbe Kløvedal Reich about Holger Danske, the Danish hero from the days of Charlemagne and Roland who was asleep in the cellar of Kronborg Castle in Helsingor, and would awake and save Denmark in a crisis. I sent it around to fantasy publishers in 1973 with no luck. It was great practice, though. In 1981 I started Fjord Press with the express purpose of publishing that book. None of my friends and advisers liked it though, so it never happened.

    Amazingly enough my first published book translation, which I translated from Danish with my wife Tiina Nunnally in 1986, was a thriller by Leif Davidsen set in Spain, The Sardine Deception. So the die was cast.

    Depending on how many copies of Stieg Larsson's books Quercus can sell, I may be able to come to the UK again soon. Let's hope so; we both had a great time last May in Bristol, Bath, Avebury, and London, which I hadn't visited since 1970!

  35. Hi Jamie too, sorry but a computer crash and two deadlines in a row prevented me from answering right away. If you're devoted to Swedish crime, maybe you've read some of my other translations. See the list on Wikipedia or click on the link in the right-hand column.

    One reason why Swedish comes out so well in English is that the word order is very similar, so not a lot of rearranging is required as in German, for instance. There are some interesting comments by Nick Fraser in his article today in The Independent: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/understanding-swedish-society-through-stieg-larssons-popular-fiction-1796052.html

    Thanks for dropping by!

  36. Hi Reg,
    I just finished TGWTDT (Quercus edition) which I found in Slovenia (I live in the province of Gorizia, Italy, just a few km from the border), and enjoyed very much, and of course I bolted to my pc for a bit of research work. I read you withdrew your name from one edition, (not the one I have, I suppose) and would like to know more about the reasons. Mack, in January, already tackled the issue on this blog but you answered you would rather save your comments for CrimeFest or private e-mails. Due to my periferic location (well, depending where the centre of the empire is...) I missed the former so, how do I go about the latter? Meanwhile, maybe you will satisfy my curiosity about what seem to be a couple of grammar mistakes but must be printing errors: page 65, line 7, "this is one of the ODDER calls" instead of ODDEST; page 173, line 30, "we've never CAME up with a motive" instead of COME. Thank you very much,

  37. Hi Leslie,

    Good to hear from the Slovenia/Gorizia area, wish I could come back and visit. Basically I took my real name off the books because of a misunderstanding with the British publisher, who made many changes to my translation that I did not agree with; due to a scheduling snafu, they could not allow me enough time to check over all these changes before going to press, so to protect my reputation for accuracy in translation I was forced to use a pseudonym. Blame any oddities of usage, style, word choice, tone, and typography on them.

  38. P.S. The US edition is essentially the same as the British except for scattered British terms that were changed if they would be confusing to American readers (i.e., "skip" to "dumpster" on the last page of TGWTDT).

  39. Dear Reg,
    My book club has decided to discuss The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. While I think of it as a thriller rather than a book evoking literary discussion, there are some topics of interest---how difficult was it to translate this book--can you explain the process--how do you capture the character of Lisbeth--were you able to translate a lot of it literally or did you have to rewrite her in American terms?

  40. This may have been touched upon but what was the reason for the title in English, clearly quite a departure from the original in Swedish and frankly one that I don't think captures the book or even ties as well to it. Man som hatar kvinnor versus The girl with the dragon tattoo.

    Otherwise, I think you've done a pretty decent job.

    Manga tack,


  41. Dear Gerri, Sorry I missed your query on this old post until now. In translating, my job is to say what the characters would say if they were speaking English, and that's what I did. Stieg had a very "American" style for a European, so I did the translation in American English. The editor in England revised it to sound more British.

    And Joel, he also picked the title, not me!

    It's a shame Mr. Larsson has left us! If "Millennium 1,2, & 3" are anything to go by, he'd have made himself a multi-millionaire over and over again! This trilogy has GOT to be the ALL time BEST seller this century so far!

    Kudos to yourself, Mr. Keeland, for the translation!!

  43. Mr. Keeland, I hope the story of Lisbeth, Mikael, Erica, etc. will continue in future books. It is very unfortunate for all us readers that Stieg Larsson passed away so early in his life. He was a great story teller and let us foreigners know a little bit about Swedish politics and culture. I hope you may be the writer to continue the story. Thanks.

  44. Hi Jeffrey, thanks for the kudos -- it was certainly the most fun of any series I've translated!

    And ryansyehyeh, when I finished translating the three books in a row in 2006, I wanted to keep going and tried to start a 4th myself. Even after living with Lisbeth & Mikael for 11 months straight, I couldn't think up any action for them to get involved in. Good thing, the family's legal battle has put the kybosh on any further adventures until it's worked out, if ever...

  45. And watch out for Lisbeth Salander action figures, coming soon to a Wal-Mart near you -- this is my recurring nightmare!

  46. Hi Reg:

    I met your sister-in-law Taya and her husband John last night at a screening of Girl with the Dragon Tattoo at the Charles in Baltimore.
    She told me you were not pleased with the final translation of the Larsson books and have versions available as YOU translated them.

    Is there any way I could read the original translation?

    Baltimore, Maryland

  47. Hi Richard,
    Unfortunately there's the copyright issue to be considered. Until something changes with the legal inheritance situation in Sweden, I'm afraid there's no way to make my original translation available. Stieg's partner Eva Gabrielsson would like to be his literary executor, but so far that is prevented by existing Swedish law.

  48. Hi, Reg!
    Thanks for this blog and, more than anything, for the three books! I just closed regretfully the end cover on TGWKTHN and might start reading it again tomorrow! I haven't enjoyed reading three books so much for a long time! Congratulations on a great translation and for not making the prose turgid! Why do translators so often do that! Oh, if only there could be at least three more stories! Or even just one! Still, I can't imagine that these characters would survive any more chaos and stress! I'm looking forward to seeing the Swedish films. I might perhaps watch the American versions in five years, if any are made.

    Though I hesitate to mention it I feel compelled to say I have one very tiny reservation and that is your American publisher's use of the obsolete 'ahold' as 'get ahold of s.t.'! I noticed this because I do a lot of editing and would have corrected this! :D

    I disagree with Leslie's objection to ODDER, Page 65, line 7. Odder, as in odd, odder, the oddest is quite correct! Oddest is not a substitute for odder! They have two entirely different meanings!

    That's me for now! Thanks again! <3

    Ilse Daniel

  49. I don't like the idea of Brad Pitt in the role of Blomkvist at all! He's much too young and I can't see Mikael with an expressionless face! I'd rather see Harrison Ford or Kenneth Branagh in the role! The Salander role needs to be played by a slight, fine boned actor and not one of these busty women so favoured these days! I can't imagine who might do it, perhaps someone new!

    Thanks, Ilse

  50. Hi Ilse,

    I hate turgid prose -- most books like that are translated by academics, who unfortunately ruin the market for full-time translators, since they already have a job with benefits and don't usually ask for a royalty.

    The printed version of the books was edited in the UK, and the US publisher didn't do a lot of editing to them, I don't think. Can't say exactly because I haven't read them since I finished translating in 2006. Watch out for: dogsbody, exiguous, gallimaufry, anon, forsooth, and other such British interpolations in my originally American translation! And I sure wouldn't say "get ahold of" unless I was writing some rural Appalachian story...

  51. Reg -

    I found this quote:
    "Nevertheless, it was still possible, even after 1921, to exclude certain groups from the right to vote. An example was individuals who had been declared incapable of managing their own affairs by a court of law. This limitation of the franchise disappeared in 1989 when the Riksdag abolished incapacitation."
    at this link:

    I'm wondering if this doesn't render the basic premise that Salander had her rights terminated in 1991 incorrect. I know you and Stieg Larsson are both scholarly, so I think I must have misunderstood something about this. Can you explain what it is that I'm misinterpreting?

  52. Gosh, Now I know why I've found it so difficult to get any work translating from German, my second language! Between you and the free academics I have no hope! My goodness, I can't remember coming across any of the words in your list! Then again I might not have noticed having grown up in Ireland and taken my degree at Sheffield University! I'd have had to look up gallimaufry, which I just did! :D

    Your beautiful prose gives me hope for the future of American letters! How have you managed to cultivate such inspiring control of our language?

    Thanks for responding to my note!

    Regards, Ilse

  53. Sehr interessant, Ilse. I never had time to do much research into the background of Stieg's story while I was working on the books, since it was a rush job for the Swedish publisher and film production company. I simply accepted that Stieg knew what he was talking about. I'm not a scholar by any means, but I have been doing this job for 36 years, and one does tend to pick up plenty of arcane info along the way -- but this wasn't one of the fields I had experience in. Sorry I can't help with an explanation, I'll leave it to you and Google and the suprisingly excellent English translation put on the Web by the Swedish government. Now I'll move on to your next comment.

  54. Thanks for the compliment, but I'm not quite sure which language you're calling "ours" -- English, I presume? And have you been trying to get literary work translating from German? There's plenty going the other way if you can go into German...

    I did do a long "apprenticeship" in technical translation before I got my first book translation job. Tech may be boring, but it's damn good practice and certainly paid the bills. The whole point there is always to use the same word, which increases output speed and hourly earnings -- while in literary work the tone is the thing, which more often necessitates using multiple synonyms, and of course several editing passes.

    I recall the time I "taught" my wife how to do tech jobs one weekend when I had a rush job from Dutch (oh yeah, had to teach her the common "little words" in Dutch too that were different from German and Scandinavian). After reading her first draft I admonished her to "use the same word each time, that's how you make money in tech translation." And you want to avoid any time-wasting revision or editing, which cuts down the hourly rate when working by the word. My M.O. involved whacking it out on a Selectric, so revision in those halcyon days of the '70s before the "correcting Selectric" came out meant using copious quantities of white-out and the occasional retyping of an entire page, accompanied by a loud moan!

  55. Reg -

    how about Pauley Perette (ncis) or Zooey Deschanel (The Tin Man) for Salander? I know they're both too tall (Perette is 5'10" and Deschanel 5'6"), but that can be fixed with camera angles! I'd prefer Pauley myself, because she has a slight frame and small, childlike face.

    Regards, I

  56. Haven't seen Pauley act, but Zooey is great. Both are too cute and not menacing enough as Salander for my taste, not to mention too tall. Have you seen Noomi Rapace in the Swedish movies? As Roger Ebert says, nobody can beat her. Even she had a hard time in the 2nd movie in a shot walking down the hall between two cops, and she definitely did not look little.

    On the face thing, most of the women mentioned have sort of round faces, which doesn't make it for me.

    Surely there's a small, non-cute, fierce actress out there somewhere -- the role would make her career if she pulled it off.

  57. And Daniel Craig? He looks about as Swedish as a cheetah in a herd of moose. Way too buff and angular for the part. Box office gold, though. And let's face it, it's all about gold.

  58. Reg, sorry, yes I meant English! I don't feel confident enough to translate to German, unless a rough translation will do. Even then I often consult my brother or nephew, their first language is German. That's a long story for another time! Thanks so much for your good and apropos advice! I used to be in business with my father in Germany. Most of our work involved translating for and about the fabric industry, so I learned very quickly to use the same words. In fact I used to have to rein in my darling dad, who would often try to get fancy! We had some interesting conversations in that regard. I remember how often I had to retype whole pages due to errors that couldn't be hidden using white-out - ugh!!!! I'm very grateful to have a computer now and don't understand those who scorn them!

    Bearing your words in mind I will look for more technical jobs! I don't mind doing that kind of work and often find it appeals to my interest in just about everything!

    I've spent most of my time since I last wrote to you being a very small link in a very large network on Facebook trying to get the horrifying horse round ups stopped. They started again yesterday and I have to man the phone tomorrow calling both Washington and Sacramento about this. It's a disgrace!

    I see you also do the Wallender books! I only know the stories from the International mystery broadcasts on PBS, but now I will read the books! I hear that Daniel Craig has been selected to play Blomkvist! That's not how I imagine him, I'd have preferred Kenneth Branaugh or even Sean Penn, but that's all right! I still haven't seen the Swedish film version! I want to live with Stieg's and your images for a while!


  59. Well there you go! It's Craig they've chosen! I was just thinking of actors who have the gravitas to pull it off, not whether they're Swedish looking or not! I don't think it's about how they look, but about what they can project! I thought of Pauley Perette and Zooey just because they are good actors and have the chops to be Salander! Many actors are much taller in person than they appear, even on the stage! The point about Salander is that she doesn't look menacing, she looks cute, innocent and innocuous! That's why so many have abused her, to their detriment!

  60. Ilse, to your 2nd comment first: I like Zooey but can't imagine her with black hair and piercings. Pauley's work I haven't seen. I can hear that you haven't seen Noomi Rapace in action yet!

  61. *Short* black hair, that is, "as short as a fuse."

  62. "He looks about as Swedish as a cheetah in a herd of moose."
    I hope you won't mind my addressing your remarks with my own ideas!
    It's interesting that you are attached to the idea of Blomkvist looking Swedish yet you are undeterred by the fact that Salander does not fit the concept of a Swedish woman! I don't remember any clear description of Blomkvist's appearance. I like that he seemed somehow a shadowy character who was attractive to and attracted by women. If I were pressed I would say he was about 5'10", slightly plump, with a face becoming wrinkled, smile lines around intelligent eyes, a ready smile, graceful and controlled movement with compelling energy and a kindly manner. I suppose I think of him as a man of the world and not as a Swedish man. I also don't think at all of his appearance, rather of his effect.

    "you haven't seen Noomi Rapace in action - Short black hair, that is, "as short as a fuse."

    From all I've read, I'm certain Noomi Rapace is excellent as Salander. As is made clear during the trial in TGWKTHN, Salander's outer shell is only that. She can be dressed and groomed any way at all and the sharpness of her mind, spirit and fierce energy are not diminished. It's her intelligent, arresting eyes and her controlled voice that compel, not her appearance! An actor like Noomi Rapace who can convey Slander's intelligence and fierceness is needed, not one who can don her shell.

    Best regards, Ilse

  63. I hope this reaches you - its been awhile since any communicating has gone on here. APPLAUSE APPLAUSE for your work on the millenium trilogy! I'm a picky reader and I've been walking on clouds for about ten days since I opened Girl With Dragon Tattoo. I'm actually draggin my heels at this moment because I have about 79 pages left in Hornet's Nest and really dont want it to be the final book in this series. I will feel bereft of not only the story but BUT the language. Rarely do I read book with such satisfying sentences. I often get little frissons of pleasure and read a phrase or sentence several times or even aloud just savoring the absolute excellence of word choice.

    I've got no idea if there is a big award for translating - but I hope there is and you win it - because you deserve huge recognition for this long sustained beauty of a challenging work.

    Thank you,

    K. F.

  64. Dear K.F., thanks for the kind words. I'm happy you got an occasional frisson and hope they were from the sentences in my original American English rather than the UK-edited ones. (If you give me some examples I can check them against my manuscript.) See my profile and email them there.

    The books have won several prizes, but sadly nothing for the translator... Most translation prizes are given to "serious" literature such as obscure poets. Crime fiction is never considered. I will cherish your comments in lieu of filling my office with awards. Thanks!

  65. Hi Reg!

    I'm a Swedish major student from Croatia currently working on my MA thesis and the subject of the thesis is a comparative analysis of the English (your) and the Croatian translations of Larsson's "Män som hatar kvinnor".

    First of all, I'd like to applaud your translation, because although Larsson isn't an obscure poet (like Ekelöf or sth like that), I believe that bestsellers can be even more demanding for the translator as you have to transfer both the language and the culture of the original in a way that it can be understood and accepted by a wide readership (sth that's not expected from obscure poetry).

    So, as I said, I'm working on the analysis of your and Croatian translation of TGWTDT and I'd be extremely grateful if you could answer these questions I've got about your translation (N.B. I read the British version published by Quercus, so I reckon they're responsible for the occasional occurrence of Wordsworth-like expressions in this very modern novel):

    -Is there a specific reason why you left Swedish words such as "skål," "fröken," "advokat," or "herr" untranslated?

    -Why is the newspaper Dagens Industri (original) always rendered as Dagens Nyheter?

    -I've noticed that in the translation the names and last names are usually contracted just to last name, e.g. whenever there is sth like "Mikael Blomkvist gick...", or even just "Mikael gick...", in the translation it says "Blomkvist went..." Is there a reason why you/publisher decided to use last names instead of first names/full names? (I presume it sounds more journalistic that way)

    -On page 266-7 Erika keeps repeating she's "missnöjd," which is rendered as "pissed off." I thought this was stylistically a bit too strong, since "missnöjd" does not sound so colloquial like "pissed off".

    -Did you consider to use footnotes to explain some of the culture specifics, such as the names of politicians, famous people and events that are not known outside of Sweden? (The Croatian translator opted to use quite a few footnotes)

    -And the last question, why did you decide to translate the names of institutions into English, e.g. SIB = A.I.A., or Hedestads kuriren = Hedestad Courier etc.? (I'm asking because the Croatian translator left all such things in the original and just explained them in a word or two)

    Sorry for being such a pain in the gluteus maximus, but it would help me a lot if you would answer these questions.

    Best regards, Miso

    1. I see you have more questions!

      Editor's mistaken change, should be Dagens Industri ("Today's Industry").

      Ask the editor at Quercus about the surname thing. Stieg usually used both names, as is common in Swedish books but sounds funny in English ones when repeated. I used first name only in more intimate passages, such as in bed or in scenes between friends, and last name only in more "business"-related scenes. The "sex triangle" of Blomkvist, Berger, and Beckman is ridiculous, not my doing! Should be Mikael, Erika and Greger, for God's sake!

      "Pissed off" was just my reading, I thought it sounded strong.

      I absolutely never use footnotes in fiction! That's the mark of a lazy or inexperienced translator. Rarely I may insert a brief phrase to explain something an English-language reader may not be able to figure out.

      I invented English acronyms because the initials of the Swedish words would mean nothing. People already complain about how hard the Swedish names and places are to follow. I guess they've never read Dostoevsky, where each character has at least 3 names...

      My gluteus is fine, no problem, hope these late replies will be of help!

  66. A Facebook site, Word Warriors, posted "gallimaufry" placed it in a sentence from Dragon Tattoo ending with "but the Vanger family had an entire gallimaufry of them." I suggested that Larsson had probably chosen a different word; the Warrior poster suggested it might have been "stuva." I suggested that since "gallimaufry" had probably been chosen for its sound as much as its meaning, that perhaps the original Swedish had been more colorful than stuva. So since gallimaufry apparently wasn't your choice, there are two questions: what was the original Swedish, and what was your own choice?

    1. Hi Bob, good guess, that word was not mine. Apparently it's some sort of Scottish stew, inserted by the Scottish editor. Give me the page & chapter number and tell me what edition so I can find it. It's not in my original manuscript! Pardon the late reply, I've been ill and also translating German the past year so have neglected my blogging duties.

  67. Copy of a response to PhraseFinder‎.... "Re: "toe the line vs. tow the line"...your article says you could find "no official reference" to "tow the line". I suggest a more thorough reading of older translations of William Shakespeare's works & older English & Norse literature, plus some Latin, Greek, German, Russian, Egyptian, Gaullish, (etc.) references as well. The term "tow the line" dates to times before navy ships had "lines" on their decks & the British Parliament didn't yet exist. Early references are from Old Norse/Viking times...when men had to physically "tow" (haul/pull) on the "lines" (ropes) of ships, boats & battle engines to move them around. If you consult Germanic, Norse, & Russian texts this becomes very clear. There are very early Mediterranean references as well. Only in modern times (the last century) has "toe the line" come into "common" usage. Another good source is Caesar's Gallic Wars in their original Latin forms. It is baldly clear to anyone translating the original texts (as some of us did in high school) that the words used in this context (usually traho) mean to "tow" not "toe" a line/rope...& refer to slaves towing heavy equipment with ropes for their Masters. Be careful that your own vast ignorance doesn't lead you to mislabel other people as "ignorant" w/o researching beyond Wikipedia, fgs! (Could you translate anything from any different language? Pobrecito de mas, zie dummkopf!) It only spotlights your ignorance, "dudes".".... I cringe every time I see "toe the line" & the absurd Wiki "research" for using this form instead of the correct "tow the line". I'm surprised that Larsson would use "toe the line" in Swedish... Really?

    1. Geben Sie mir bitte den exakten Seitenverweis, Herr Claudi-Dude, so kann ich diese Frage besser beantworten. Det er en skam at du bruger din åbenbart verdens- og tidsomfattende lingvistiske viden til sådanne banale argumentationer. ¡Basta, cabrón!

  68. Hi Miso, Here are some answers for you, probably too late (I've been ill).

    Skål is a word everyone in the States knows, at least, and something like Cheers would have sounded dumb. I did leave Fröken and Herr in a few places -- they don't call it "Mrs. Bovary," do they? I figured any intelligent reader can learn a couple of obvious Swedish words. "Advokat" was not my word, but inserted by the UK editor, who knows why. I had written "Attorney."

    Thanks for the compliment at this late date and good luck with your paper...

  69. Good evening,Reg!

    First of all, sorry for my english, it's not my native language, and i'm sure you'll find a lot of mistakes))
    Well, my name is Vadim, i'm Swedish major student from Russia, im working on my graduate thesis. I'm lucky to work with Man som hatar kvinnor, your translation to English and Russian translation. Main topic of my work is transfering swedish realias into different languages, so my question is
    What were the most difficult realias for you to translate into engelska? Which of them have sticked to your memory?)
    With best regards!