Rare Book Monthly

Articles - January - 2021 Issue

Translating Goodnight Moon

Armenian Moon (photo from Armenian Weekly website).

This story comes from a war-torn area, an old conflict of which I would not pretend to have any understanding. Armenia and Azerbaijan are fighting over territory known as Artsakh. Earlier treaties placed it in Azerbaijan but its population is mostly ethnic Armenian. Of course, children, who have no interest in fighting other children, always get caught in the middle of battles by adults who can't resolve disputes like adults. So, what else is new? But, this story comes from Armenian Weekly, and it is an attempt to make life a little brighter for the children, at least those of Armenian extraction.

 

Some people have come up with a fantastic idea to make life better for young children displaced by the fighting. The idea is to make Goodnight Moon accessible to these children. The plan is known as the “Goodnight Moon – Armenian Translation Project.” According to the Armenian Weekly, Goodnight Moon has been translated into 13 languages, but up until now, Armenian was not one of them. This simple but wondrous book indisputably should be available to all children, no matter what their native tongue. No one should have to grow up without it.

 

But then, it got me to thinking. How difficult is it to translate Goodnight Moon? Seriously, is this a project? Have you ever read it? Of course you have, to your children if not yourself. What does it take to translate Goodnight Moon, ten minutes and Google Translate? This is a wonderful book but it's no War and Peace. That would take a project to translate. Now, publishing the translated book, like publishing any book, can be a project, and in this case a worthy one. Translating it is more akin to translating something by Edward Ruscha or Ansel Adams. Nice work if you can get it.

Rare Book Monthly

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