Now that the Hobbit has been cleared to be filmed in New Zealand, much to the relief of the New Zealand Tourist board, I thought it would be interesting to look at how the book had been translated over the years since its publication.
Like all translations the language can’t simply be replicated and even something as simple as the lead characters name has to be thought through to ensure the translation is sympathetic to regional and national variations in language.
Here’s a list of the translations of Bilbo Baggins, with thanks to Wikipedia. The key to these is the translation of the name Baggins, keeping in line with the description and feel of the character.
- In the Brazilian Portuguese translation he is called Bilbo Bolseiro (but Bilbo Bolsin in the first edition of The Hobbit).
- In the Bosnian translation he is called Bilbo Bagins.
- In the Breton translation he is called Bilbo Sac’heg (sac’h = sack, bag).
- In the Bulgarian translation he is called Билбо Торбинс (торба = bag).
- In the Catalan version he is called Bilbo Saquet; saquet meaning “little bag” or “little sack”.
- In the Czech it is Bilbo Pytlík (pytlík = small bag).
- In the Danish translation he is called Bilbo Sækker (sæk = bag).
- In the Dutch version he is called Bilbo Balings. (baal = bag)
- In the Estonian translation he is called Bilbo Paunaste (paun = bag). (In the first edition of The Hobbit he kept his original name.)
- In the Fareoese translation he is called Bilbo Pjøkjin
- In most of the Finnish translations he is called Bilbo Reppuli (reppu = backpack). In Risto Pitkänen’s early Finnish translation of The Hobbit (1973) he is called Kalpa Kassinen (kalpa = sword, kassi = bag)
- In the French translation he is called Bilbo (or Bilbon) Sacquet (sac = bag).
- In the German translation he is called Bilbo Beutlin (created from Beutel=bag).
- In the Hungarian translation he is called Zsákos Bilbó. (zsák = bag)
- In the Icelandic translation he is called Bilbó Baggason (Bilbo, son of Baggi, baggi = sack, pack), see Icelandic name. In later translations, Bilbó does not have a patronym but a family name.
- In the Mewari translation he is called Bilbo Thelo (Thelo = bag).
- In the Norwegian translation he is called Bilbo Lommelun. (lomme = pocket)
- In one of three Polish translations of The Lord of the Rings he is called Bilbo Bagosz. In the other two translations and in The Hobbit he keeps his original name.
- In the Russian translation he is also called Торбинс or Сумкинс (торба, сумка = handbag).
- In the Slovak he is called Bilbo Bublík (but Bilbo Lazník in the first edition of The Hobbit).
- In the Slovene it is Bilbo Bogataj (bogat = rich) in The Hobbit, but Bilbo Bisagin(bisaga = bag) in The Lord of the Rings.
- In the Spanish translation he is called Bilbo Bolsón. (bolso “handbag”, so bolsón “big handbag”).
- In the Swedish translation (by Åke Ohlmarks’ 1959-1961) he is called Bilbo Bagger (bagge = male sheep). In Erik Andersson’s 2004-2005 translation he is more appropriately called Bilbo Secker (säck = sack/bag).
- In the Ukrainian translation he is called Торбинс, Торбінз) or Злоткінс. (торба = handbag).