Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Translations into Foreign Languages

I came across this interesting article written by Esther Allen on the process of getting books translated from or into foreign languages. To quote some of it:

For more than a decade, I've been writing reader's reports. I evaluate books written in or translated into French or Spanish for editors who, for the most part, can't read those languages. Writing the reports is a time-consuming, often frustrating, and always financially unprofitable pastime, and there can't be many of us willing to do it; sometimes two or three different publishers in sequence will, unbeknownst to each other, send me the same book to evaluate....

Will this piece of writing retain meaning and interest for a different set of readers in a different linguistic context? ....

For of course what most editors really want to know is whether the book will sell in the US marketplace. general a bad report guarantees that a book won't be published. A good report, however, is likely to be ignored. Worst of all, even when a good report does lead to publication - and the publisher finds a translator who's up to the task - the translated book will probably be left to its own devices in the marketplace, with little or no publicity, and will therefore ultimately be deemed a failure.

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