Reading with translation in mind

Spice of Life

Well this week has been a bit different. Most of the work has carried over from previous weeks so there has been a lot of checking, proof reading and revision before final submission. I have also been doing some abstracting.

Literary Translation

The Linguist arrived at the end of last week. The article that caught my eye was on literary translation. Many years ago I went to a talk given by the author of this article. It was very interesting and I made copious notes. One of the points I have always remembered is that aspiring literary translators need to be proactive. Loads of English speaking authors are translated into numerous languages, as a glance round any European bookshop attests. Trying to find a French or Spanish book to read in France or Spain, is not as easy as buying an English novel in the UK, because there are so many British and American titles. Unfortunately the reverse is not true. British bookshops are not overflowing with translated foreign titles. We are  missing out! Because of this I always find myself reading foreign literature with an eye to the possibilities of translation. Could I translate it? Would anyone be interested in it? What would the translation problems be? Do I like it enough to recommend it and to spend months working on it? I never get further than this but it doesn’t spoil my enjoyment either. I have found 2 or 3 books I might like to translate but I am not sure how wide their appeal might be. Perhaps that is not my problem. I would probably want to chose a biography or history rather than a novel. I have heard that literary translation is poorly paid. This is terrible. The books I have read in translation have showed remarkable skill by the translator, and it is not obvious that they are a translation. Their skill should be recognised and more foreign works should be made available to the general public. We can’t all read fluently in all languages so even linguists need some literature in translation. I take my hat off to literary translators.


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