Geschreven bij Safari naar de hel
I wanted to respond to what some Dutch readers have noted about the English dialogue in the book. What struck me in the process of translating the Dutch manuscript was that the author had managed to capture a very complex linguistic environment in the dialogue. With the book set largely in Kenya, much of the dialogue is, of course, in English, but for the most part either the non-standard Kenyan English of the inhabitants of Nairobi, or the less-than-perfect English of the Dutch protagonist, which finds himself forced to rely on to navigate their world. Naturally, in the clash of these two different Englishes, shades of meaning are confused, near-misunderstandings become quite literally a matter of life or death for our hero, and cultural biases and perspectives are revealed in the bones of the language itself. It is a very subtle mood, one that the author has managed to capture brilliantly and which adds to the realism of the book on a very deep level. As a language professional, I found this aspect particularly well-crafted, and (even though the book is set in the “historical period” of the 1990s), a very interesting and illuminating commentary on the place and status of English as the international language of the 21st century. So of course it was important to maintain this in the translation.
Translator of Safari to Hell