Translators' names in publications
Thread poster: Dina 13

Dina 13
Arabic to English
+ ...
Nov 22, 2011

I want to ask about the etiquette for writing translators' names in publications. Are they mentioned at all?

I knew about the apostrophe. I'll blame it on speed. Thanks.

[Edited at 2011-11-23 08:11 GMT]

The translators in this case are doing translated briefs for a weekly newspaper.

[Edited at 2011-11-23 08:26 GMT]

[Edited at 2011-11-23 09:34 GMT]


MM^^  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:07
Member (2010)
Chinese to French
+ ...
Intellectual property of the translator requires that mention Nov 22, 2011


Yes, in regard of the author right of the translator which includes the right to be mentionned.

Best regards,


Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 00:07
Member (2008)
Italian to English
' <-- Nov 22, 2011

Dina 13 wrote:

I want to ask about the etiquette for writing translators names in publications. Are they mentioned at all?

Translators' (not "translators") names can only be mentioned in publications by agreement with the authors of those publications, on an ad hoc basis. There is no general rule.

[Edited at 2011-11-22 14:02 GMT]


Noni Gilbert  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:07
Spanish to English
+ ...
Get it into the contract Nov 22, 2011

...before you agree to do the translation.


TargamaT team  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:07
Member (2010)
English to Arabic
+ ...
Translators in the Arab World Nov 22, 2011

As mentioned by colleagues, there is no predefined rule for this item.

As a publisher for exclusively translated books, I put the name of the translator in the second or the third page (with the publishing team) as in the English or French traditions.

However, some translators ask me to put their name on the cover! This what I never accept because the book belongs only to the author ...

[Edited at 2011-11-22 16:36 GMT]


United States
Member (2009)
German to English
+ ...
It depends what you mean by "publications". Nov 22, 2011

If it's (say) a magazine article, seeing your name in lights is probably too much to ask. If it's a book, it's MUCH easier to get a translator's credit than it used to be, though you'll still get the idiotic argument of "We don't want it to look like a translation," even when the author is obviously foreign.

You can always put "Translated by Dina 13" at the beginning or end and hope that it gets left in.


Michael Wetzel  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:07
German to English
Berne Convention Nov 23, 2011


There is a predefined, general rule that publishers have to name the creator of intellectual property (and this includes many translations). Most countries in the world have signed the Berne Convention, which guarantees this and other rights (there are several African and Arab exceptions).
The definition of intellectual property varies a lot from country to country (particularly in special cases such as translations). That said, the bar is generally set very low when it comes to a text qualifying as intellectual property. However, in some countries (such as the USA) it is possible for freelancers to contractually agree to not be considered the owner of the intellectual property that they create ("works for hire").
This means that if no special agreements were made in the contract and the translation qualifies as intellectual property, then the translator's name must appear if he or she insists.

That said, law and etiquette/standard practice are two very different things and Targama's and Tom's answers reflect real-world practice. A brief for a weekly paper is a marginal case anyway, and I would do my best to avoid discussion of the matter:
As a translator, I would not ask to have my name included.
As a client, I would gently try to get the translator to back down (because it would look silly in the newspaper) and then probably agree to print the name (and find a new translator).



nordiste  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:07
English to French
+ ...
Berne Convention (bis) Nov 23, 2011

The author owns the translation. As a freelance translator, you as the author own the translation.

It is not a matter of etiquette or usage, it has legal basis.

In France the translator's name should be present on the book cover .
paragraphe VIII (in French).

For technical articles published in various magazines I have my name printed with the usual credits for photo/layout etc .

I don't see what looks silly in these...

BUt if you ask for your name to be published, then be sure to check the final version of the text just before it gets printed. You don't want to sign the mess resulting from final correction by people ignoring the language...


Michael Wetzel  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:07
German to English
Berne Convention Nov 24, 2011

Hello Nordiste,

Just to be clear: I do not think it is silly to claim intellectual rights as an author/adapter/translator for a substantial article.

I do think it might look silly if I opened up the Guardian and a thirty-line announcement about the opening of a new gallery includes "Translated by XYZ" - particularly because the text is unlikely to include a byline for the author. And the brief is also likely to be used as a source of information rather than as an integral text.

Almost all of the work that I do produces intellectual property, but the work of many translators (instruction manuals, contracts, etc.) is not considered intellectual property in many countries.
As I said, at least in the USA, it is also possible for freelancers to sign a contract granting intellectual property rights to their client as though the freelancer were an employee of the client. (I do not know why they are still permitted to be considered signatories of the Berne Convention, but they are.) This is certainly not legal in Germany and I doubt that it is permissible anywhere in the EU (with the possible exception of the UK).



chris durban
Local time: 01:07
French to English
Signed work, yes Nov 24, 2011

I've argued elsewhere that signed work is extremely useful for translators working in many segments of the market -- book translations (as per Berne convention, as noted above), but also technical translations (brochures, reports, etc.).
It lets potential clients who like your work find you more easily.
It also reminds translators not to stretch themselves too far; your mindset and approach to quality change radically once you stop shooting texts out into a black hole in space -- once the chickens can come home to roost (or eager clients can beat a path to your door; why not?).
My experience of direct clients is that they generally have no problem at all putting the translator's name in the credits (e.g., "Spanish text: Jose Bloggs"), right alongside photo credits and the like. However they will not take the initiative: you, as translator, must do that.
But my experience of translators is that they have endless (endless) excuses for not wanting their name on their work. Now why would that be? (Rhetorical question).

[Edited at 2011-11-25 07:48 GMT]


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