The power of translation

ID-10088286

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

You are a writer. You have written an awesome book, published it. Your readers love it. This doesn’t only sound great – it is a real achievement. People love it, write about it and suddenly you are in need of a translation.

Your next step is obviously to start looking for a translator…

Not every university graduate in linguistics is the right one for your book; not every non-graduate translator is the wrong one for your book.

This is important:

  • How much and what has your translator done so far, do the subjects fit? If the translator’s work up to now consisted of translating articles on economy, this might not do for your epic story.
  • Does your translator know about your topics and/or genre(s)? A medical translator might not be right for your young adult series.
  • Is your translator open-minded and creative, without changing your style? A translator isn’t there to rewrite your book in another language.
  • Is your translator aware of the responsibility? A bad translation doesn’t sell and can be the source of bad reviews.
  • Are there references for your translator’s translation qualities? A translator needs to be as safe as houses in both languages, the original and the mother tongue.

As a university graduate in Germany, there were lots of different topics to cover – not only for the exam:

  • A third language as a sideline.
  • Translations in both directions – general.
  • Translations in both directions – special topics.
  • Culture and society of both countries.
  • Writing essays in both languages, focusing on different types of readers and topics. (to also graduate as technical author)
  • Debating on general and special topics in both languages.
  • Interpreting in both directions.

On graduating, I (personally) swore an oath to always translate with utmost care.

A hint was given to us in one of our last semesters: ‘Do not read translations, do not trust anyone else’s translation.’ We were shocked.

I respect this hint and read originals (English, German, Spanish, French, Portuguese). In case of other languages, I read the English version. Throughout the years, I was very disappointed in how some translators ruined a book title. The English translations (once from Swedish to English, once from French to English) were correct, the German versions lacked sense and/or accuracy. Some potential readers refrained from reading the books as they were repelled by the titles. The translation from Swedish to German showed a lack of knowledge of German culture and society. Very sad.¬† ūüė¶

There is a very positive example I’d like to mention here:

I just finished reading ‘O Pr√≥ximo Alvo’ by Marcel Trigueiro. An awesome book – my review is coming in March. You may ask yourselves, why I do not publish my review right now. I glimpsed at the translation, and liked what I saw. Therefore, I decided to read the English version translated by Leiah Cooper as well. I already started, am thrilled about the fine quality of this translation. I need to read and review some other books first, however.

Marcel Trigueiro and Leiah Cooper: Please accept my standing ovations!¬† ‚≠ź