The comic-book hero Asterix, in a series of French comic books, now speaks Hebrew and Arabic, adding a Middle Eastern touch to this worldwide known comic book that was just released at a Paris book fair.
“Translation opens us up to others, to all peoples,” said Syrian Jamal Shehayeb, who usually translates literary works by Proust or poet Lamartine.
In the books, the diminutive Gallic warrior's friends “live in peace and friendship with all other people as long as nobody bothers them,” said Israeli Dorith Daliot Rubinovitz, who generally translates French novelist Maupassant.
The translated comic book album is titled in French “Asterix chez Rahazade” (Asterix at Rahazade's) and refers to the 1001 Arabian Nights.
Both translators said they had to adapt the text to reality, even though it was difficult with the wild boars as both religions forbid pork.
“We left the boars in though they're not kosher,” said the Israeli translator.
Syrian Shehayeb said when Asterix was first translated into Arabic it used “wild beasts” rather than "boars" to avoid offending fundamentalists. “I kept the original because you have to face reality as it is.”
Asterix was created in 1959 and has since been translated into 107 languages and dialects.