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dissertation in translation.
Thread poster: whiteeastwest
English to French
Sep 25, 2008

Hello all,

It feels a little awkward posting such an amateurish question on such a serious website but I am not too sure who to turn to. I am basically studying English at university and my course is only partly based on translation- most of what I do is British/American history and literature to be fair.

Even though I am not specialised at all in translation, I am still focusing on it for my dissertation. I am however at a loss as to what to translate. (I'd be translating from English into French). I don't want to work on a classic or too "difficult" a book for obvious reasons and I was thinking maybe working on a book that hasn't been translated into French yet or working on a "low profile" book. The majority of the books I have ever read are either classics, or fairly well-known books that have all been translated.
How should I go about choosing the right text to translate? Where can I find the information I am looking for? Is there a website or anywhere listing untranslated books? Any tips would be more than welcome!

Thanks in advance.

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Szilas Cseh
Local time: 14:30
English to Hungarian
+ ...
... Sep 26, 2008


I think one can translate something best if the topic is close to him/her and if the material is understood/comprehended in depth. I don't know of any websites that list untranslated books, but I would go to a French on-line bookstore (or a couple of them) and would do a search and see whether the book has been translated yet or not.

Hope this helps.


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Peter Linton  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:30
Member (2002)
Swedish to English
+ ...
Suggestion Sep 26, 2008

It would be helpful to know more about what is expected of you. I did a similar dissertation a few years ago, and was expected to translate about 10,000 words and to include a detailed commentary of 3,000 words.

This means that the commentary is what really matters, so your selection should be geared to a text that provide good opportunities to research and to write interesting comments on your translation. For example your source text might have unusual terminology, old-fashioned terminology, modern terminology. The text I chose had some unusual words derived from Latin, and led to research into inheritance, wills and entailed estates that produced some quite interesting comments.

In short, you want a text that shows off your research skills as much as your translation skills. This also suggests that you might be well advised to avoid literature and focus instead on history. You might, for example, find an untranslated report by a British visitor to France, perhaps at the time of the Revolution. Or a diary. Almost any text that provides plenty of opportunities for linguistic and terminological research.

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