Icelandic comic artist Hugleikur Dagsson was surprised to discover that a French translation of one of his comics completely changed the written text.
The comic in question, from his book Elskið Okkur (“Love Us”), depicts a person laying on the ground, bleeding profusely with a gun in their hand. Two people stand nearby looking at the person, with one asking the other, “Wanna fuck him?”. In the French version, the text is changed to say, “I think he needs a hug.”
Hugleikur drew attention to the discrepancy on Facebook, adding, “Now I’m curious to learn what else has been changed in the translation [of this book].”
Speaking with Fréttablaðið, Hugleikur speculated on the reasons for this translation, saying, “I think the translator obviously changed the text because they considered the original too harsh, but then they should have just not published it.”
Hugleikur added that in general, he has a good relationship with translators of his comics. While he translates his own Icelandic material into English himself, in Finland, for example, translators do their work in continuous cooperation with him.
Reactions to the liberties taken by the French translator have been mixed, with one commenter on Hugleikur’s Facebook post suggesting, “This is especially complex because the French joke is actually not too shabby. A little bit deep even. I would consider stealing it back if I were you.”
For the time being, Hugleikur told reporters he has no intention of making a big deal out of this, but does plan on checking to see if the translator in question has made any other significant changes to his material.