Mr Men and Little Miss were an important part of my childhood. I grew up reading them and loved the characters, as well as the colours and the stories.
I also remember my eagerness to collect all of the books in the series so that I could line them up on the shelf to produce the message written along the spines, which read My Mr Men Library and My Little Miss Library.
Much to my disappointment I never managed to achieve this, but I certainly enjoyed reading the books as I tried.
Since the success of Roger Hargreaves’ beloved characters in English, the books have been translated into various other languages. Children and adults alike can now enjoy the brightly illustrated tales in at least 15 languages.
German, French, Japanese and Spanish are just four such languages for people to enjoy. Unsere kleinen Damen und Herren will entertain you in German, whilst Monsieur Madame is the name for the French series. In both of these languages the titles have been changed to German and French names.
How well do they correspond to the English names though? In German, at least from what I can see, they match up quite well. Only one stuck out to me in particular. Unser Herr Ordentlich is the equivalent title for Mr Fussy. I have always known the German word ordentlich to mean organised, which of course encapsulates the idea of the character Mr Fussy wanting everything to be just so.
However, I wonder if ordentlich really captures the connotations that the word fussy has for native speakers of English? Whilst dictionary definitions outline the word as meaning ‘close attention to detail’, which would certainly be covered by the word organised, the other most frequent senses of the word fussy are those to do with usage in terms of being fastidious about ones needs. I am not sure that the word ordentlich conveys this sense in German, but perhaps someone knows of an example?
Regardless of whether I am being overly fastidious about the translation of a name, the usefulness of these little books in other languages is clear. Children can enjoy them in their native languages or use them to aid learning of other languages. Of course adults can do the same.
Although the books are simple they offer excellent opportunities to learn vocabulary and are stimulating for young minds. Reading is a key part of learning a language and these books are perhaps just one step on the road to mastering foreign tongues.
I will definitely be looking to get hold of some of these in other languages. I hope to learn Spanish and maybe Arabic, so this could be a good place to start my quest for the completed libraries.
Do you know of any other languages that these books have been translated into? Have you used these or other books to help when learning a language?
For more information on the languages we work with in translation and interpreting here at Lingua Translations, please visit our languages page.