I may be mistaken, but allegedly, Tolkien really took great offense to the first (and only, during his entire lifetime and decades beyond) Swedish translation of The Lord of the Rings. He called the person responsible for it "conceited" and basically seemed to strongly dislike, if not hate, him.
My parents had the first two books as the original Swedish translation. I read them as an almost-teenager and then borrowed the third book from the library, still about six years before the new translation was released (which occurred in 2004-2005).
Quite recently, I re-read them, then again borrowed the third one from the library. This time, I got the 2005 Swedish version of The Return of the King. This translation, the first new one in Swedish since the original, has many changes, which were very jarring to me initially. For example:
- "Vattnadal" (Rivendell) is now called "Riftedal".
- "Lavskägge" (Treebeard) is now called "Trädskägge".
- "Hobsala" (Hobbiton) is now called "Hobbinge".
- "Bilbo Baggins" (Bilbo Baggers) is now called "Bilbo Secker".
- "Hober" (hobbits) are now called "hobbitar".
All of these changes (and many more) are supposed to be "more faithful" to the original, English text. And they are, in some objective sense, but they don't really sound right to me. I almost get a "Swenglish" kind of feeling about this, as if they tried too hard to literally translate everything with no concern to what sounds natural or "more fitting" in Swedish. However, the book has a page explaining that they "now know far more about Tolkien's ideas" than they did in the 1960s when the first translation was made, and apparently, critics and fans far prefer this new version.
But, in particular, I find "hober" (the old Swedish translation) to sound a million times better and more natural in Swedish than "hobbitar". Let's face it: Swedish is not the exact same language as English. Tolkien may have been extremely skilled at (with? In?) English, and with languages in general, but he was not a native Swedish speaker (which he even mentions as a possible explanation), so why was he apparently so shocked/disgusted by this translation, which he cannot possibly have read in any meaningful manner?
I have to say that I actually find it enriching to have experienced (at least parts) of the story in multiple different "interpretations". Tolkien's own world is absolutely full of redundant and varying names/labels/words for everyone and everything; named in many different languages and even varying between different characters and ages and sub-species/races. It almost feels like "Lavskägge" and "Trädskägge" are different peoples' names for Treebeard, or used in different eras by the same people! (Which is technically the case...)
To me, the hobbits are forever "hober". Not "hobbitar". Of course, I call them "hobbits" when writing or speaking in English, and I have read parts of the books in the original language as well. I mostly didn't this time just to cling on to my dying language.
As a side-note: I don't even think that he brought this up in his criticism, but one thing that I genuinely do hate about the original Swedish translation is that it uses the vile "dash format" instead of quotes, making it impossible to know what is part of dialogue and what is narration, without constantly trying to "read ahead" and guess what's what. I can't tell you how many times I was continuing the dialogue in my head when it was suddenly the narrator who had taken over, and the other way around.
Why did Tolkien, himself so interested in languages and using so many different names for everything, get so angry/upset/offended when the Swedish translation didn't use what he, as a non-Swedish speaker (to the best of my knowledge), considered "more appropriate"? And he even compliments the Dutch translation at the same time, another language which I don't think that he was an expert in.
Note: I'm not "bashing Tolkien". I'm just wondering about this.