5 Things I Learned Translating “How to Make Your Dreams Come True”
What’s the best way to understand and know a book? Apart from writing it yourself, the second best option is translating it to another language. If you do it mindfully, you will learn a lot along the way.
I’ve recently completed the translation of Mark Forster’s book How to Make Your Dreams Come True from English to my native language, Czech. These are the most important things this project has taught me…
I. Better Understanding of Languages
This one is obvious. But not only my understanding of English has improved, I got much better at Czech as well! Converting the rigid sentence structure of English into flexible Czech structures made me think a lot about the language and its inheritance of Latin concepts. And I got to use a wider vocabulary than I normally do.
II. Language Synergy
This is invaluable. I used to switch between “Czech mode” and “English mode” of thinking and translating between them required quite some effort. I actually had situations when I was answering Czech questions in English and couldn’t bring myself to switch. Now I am much better at fluently passing between the languages while sounding natural. I also built a “translation memory” of many idioms and phrases in both languages.
III. Producing E-books
I created ePub and Mobi (Kindle) versions as well as a PDF. I am rather proud of my own technology/solution which allowed me to create all the formats automatically from one source text. I wrote some nice programs for this :-). It was very interesting to learn about all the features of e-book formats. Seriously, I think this is the future.
IV. Getting Used To The Author’s Voice
There aren’t many people whose voice, spoken or written, is more familiar to me than that of Mark Forster. When you carefully read through tens of pages written by one person, you inevitably start noticing how unique is their style and in what ways it differs from others. And then you’re of course aiming to reproduce that style in another language which challenges your normal mode of expression. And challenges are good.
V. Living The Book
I was loosely following the book’s principles before, but when I started translating it, it became my Bible. I was constantly thinking about all the principles, applying them in real life, comparing them to thoughts of philosophers I had studied, arguing for and against them. I certainly don’t agree with everything that’s in the book, but a great part of it resonates strongly with me. I even got taunted that I am a Mark Forster’s copy :-)
As a result of following and translating “Dreams” my life has been improving in most areas even though I was facing grave challenges and difficulties in my personal life. I found the book combines well with many other approaches to life that I accept and provides very practical guides and explanations. And the journey taking place throughout the writing was, and continues to be, immensely inspirational.
Because of this effect on my own life the translation has been one of the best projects I have ever undertaken.