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Wonderland translation a wonderful experience

Wonderland translation a wonderful experience

The main reason Senior Lecturer Tom Roa agreed to translate Alice in Wonderland into te reo Māori was because he thought it would be fun.

Tom’s fascination with the Lewis Carroll book written in 1865 began when he was at school in Otorohanga.

“One of our primary school teachers, Mrs Luxton, read Alice in Wonderland out loud to us in class. Most of my mates fell asleep, but I was fascinated, and in the end she gave me the book to keep.”

So when Irish publishing company Evertype asked Tom to translate the book in honour of its 150th anniversary, he was happy to give it a go.

“I had another read of it and remembered the fun of it as a young kid. It had such quirky English.”

The translation took Tom three years, fitting it in around his work at the university, tribal and family commitments. He says translated from the context of the text rather than from the actual words.

“The most difficult thing was translating the idioms, such as “much of a muchness”. Muchness is a hard word to convey the meaning of and has no Māori equivalent, so I had to make up ways of saying things in te reo that conveyed the same meaning.”

To see if he’d succeeded in translating the quirkiness of the story, Tom tried it out on his seven-year-old grandson.

“I read it to him with appropriate sound effects and he cracked up, rolling on the floor and asking for more. The book is so full of nonsense, and translating it brought the wonder of the book to Māori in Māori.”

The book Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland in Māori, Ko Ngā Takahanga i Ārihi i Te Ao Mīharo, is available through Amazon at http://www.evertype.com/books/alice-mi.html

Teaching Fellow Telesia Kalavite from the School of Māori and Pacific Development has translated Alice in Wonderland into Tongan.

ENDS

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