Margaret Mahy story now in five languages

Last updated 05:00 20/02/2013
Margaret Mahy story

MULTILINGUAL TALE: Swiss ambassador Marion Weichelt Krupski with the booklet that has part of The Three-Legged Cat in five languages.

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Fifty years of diplomacy between Switzerland and New Zealand is being celebrated with a multilingual children's story.

An excerpt from Margaret Mahy's tale The Three-Legged Cat has been translated into the four official languages of Switzerland - French, German, Italian and Romansch - as well as into Maori.

The publication, of which 50 copies have been handcrafted, will be presented to Culture and Heritage Minister Chris Finlayson today at a ceremony to kick off the year-long celebrations.

Victoria University's senior lecturer in the school of languages and cultures, Marco Sonzogni, approached Swiss ambassador Marion Weichelt Krupski about collaborating in a translation project.

While they initially discussed using the work of a Swiss author, Dr Weichelt Krupski felt it would be a good way to celebrate the New Zealand connection while also honouring Mahy, who died last year.

The Three-Legged Cat was selected because it was Dr Weichelt Krupski's and her children's favourite, she says.

The translators, based in New Zealand and Switzerland, remained faithful to the story which, she says, is not always the case.

The most famous example is the Swiss story Heidi, which has been translated many times.

"It's interesting in American translations how Heidi is described. In the Swiss version she is a brown girl in colouring with dark hair and black eyes. But in the American [version] she's fair skinned with blue eyes and blonde hair.

"Sometimes they stick more to the originals, sometimes less."

Contact Sophie Speer
Culture and Capital Day reporter
Twitter: @sophie_speer

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- The Dominion Post


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