Nadsat goes Meta

We are at last delighted to announce the publication of our latest academic journal article on the Ponying the Slovos project in the prestigious Meta journal from the University of Montreal.

Volume 63, no 3 – cover date December 2020.

This compares the Nadsat in Anthony Burgess’s original text with that to be found in the French translation by Georges Belmont and Hortense Chabrier, about which we have spoken previously.

Readers with access to a university library can access this article through their university library account, but if we get requests to read it we will try to accommodate that by sending out pre-prints of the article to interested parties.

This article is the latest of a series of outputs, all of which can be seen here. It also foreshadows our next scheduled publication, which will compare the English, French and Spanish versions of Nadsat linguistically, using parallel translation corpora techniques. We’ve already introduced some of the findings here for those interested, and in a forthcoming post we’ll be looking specifically at the Spanish translation and its curious history.

Three versions of Nadsat: English, French & Spanish

Most of us are accustomed to thinking of Nadsat in one way only. After all, most of us only read the novel in one language, whether Burgess’s original, or else in one of the more than fifty extant translations. But of course, each of those translations represents a variant of Nadsat. Some languages have hosted multiple Nadsats, sometimes even by the same translator, as our colleague Patrick Corness has noted in relation to Robert Stiller’s multiple Polish-Nadsats.

So, we can think in terms of French-Nadsat, or German-Nadsat, or Spanish-Nadsat, and depending on the language, sometimes multiple variants thereof. Thankfully from the point of view of comparing them, there is really only one French-Nadsat and one Spanish-Nadsat to date.

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Bon, alors ça sera quoi, hein?

Cette traduction surprendra peut-être d’abord le lecteur par certaines curiosités du vocabulaire.

This translation will perhaps at first surprise the reader due to certain oddities of vocabulary

You have to love the understatement with which Georges Belmont and Hortense Chabrier start their translators’ note which prefaces the French translation of A Clockwork Orange (our translation).

The Belmont/Chabrier translation is an astonishing piece of writing, and the fact that it has remained in print since first publication almost fifty years ago bears evidence to that. We have looked closely at what they have achieved, and how their “French-Nadsat” compares with Burgess’s original, in a new peer-reviewed article in Meta journal, volume 65 (3).

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