Have you ever wondered what kind of challenges you might encounter when translating Asterix? It’s not just about translating the dialogues – there are also numerous names, verbal and visual puns, songs and accents to deal with, and you have to fit the translated text into the speech bubbles. An interesting site – Literary Translation – goes into more detail of some of the difficulties of translating various literary works, including Asterix.
I’ve only read Asterix in English, plus a few of the books in German, so am not familiar with the original French text. Most of the names of the characters in French are different to the ones I’m used to in English. For example, the Gaulish bard, who is Cacofonix in English, is known as Assurancetourix = assurance tous risques, ‘comprehensive insurance’ in French. Many of the other names are made up of French words like this, and don’t sound like names if translated literally. Another example is the Gaulish chieftain, Abraracourcix, whose name comes from the phrase