A Specialist Vocabulary?

At the Haikasoru blog Nick Mamatas talks about the difficulties of translating science fiction, a form of fiction known for its specialist vocabulary. Nick quotes Fred Pohl as follows:

Translating a science-fiction story is almost like translating a poem: you don’t so much put it into another language as you recreate it from scratch.

Nick agrees, and says he has to work closely with Haikasoru’s translators to help them understand the science fiction terms:

Luckily I have a great pool of translators to chose from thanks to the rise of manga and video games. However, at the risk of comparing myself to the immortal Judith Merril, I still must do a fair amount of heavy lifting in the editorial stage. Translating Japanese SF certainly seems to me to still take two: an excellent translator of Japanese and someone well-versed in science fictional concepts.

Meanwhile, at the World SF blog, Lavie Tidhar takes aim at the idea that English is somehow the “language of science fiction”.

Given how much invention of language takes place in both science fiction and fantasy (think of Tolkien, for example), perhaps a knowledge of multiple actual languages is an asset for budding writers.