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What books should every translator read?
Thread poster: Jasmina Faranov

Jasmina Faranov
Serbia
Local time: 06:04
English to Serbian
+ ...
Jul 11, 2009

What books do you think every translator should read?

 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:04
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Two suggestions Jul 12, 2009

Jasmina Faranov wrote:

What books do you think every translator should read?


Books that assume the translator's task is culturally important. Two suggestions:

"After Babel" by George Steiner. Working analytically through a range of examples, from Cicero to Shakespeare, Steiner analyses the inherent nature of language, nuance, and interpretation in different contexts. He deals with the history and practice of translation, our ability to "hear" a language, the evolution of languages, and many other topics. I would say that this large, wide-ranging, detailed book is a fundamental reference for any translator who is seriously interested in the profounder significance of what is happening, and what they are actually doing, when they translate. Not a quick and easy read, but a rich book to keep on your table as a reference and constant stimulus. It has (ironically) been translated into many languages.

Also the essay by Walter Benjamin "The Task of the Translator" originally written in French or German, I'm not sure which, and which was his introduction to (I think) his own translation, from French to German, of Baudelaire's "Tableaux Parisiens" This is his opportunity to embark on a long poetic reflection on the nature of language, and on what translation means. Quote: "the word 'Brot' means something different to a German than the word 'pain' to a Frenchman."

[Edited at 2009-07-12 13:56 GMT]


 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 06:04
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
If from/into English Jul 12, 2009

"The secret diary of Adrian Albert Mole, aged 13-3/4" by Sue Townsend, and its sequels. Condensed British society of the 80's at its best!!

[Edited at 2009-07-12 11:23 GMT]


 

Stanislaw Czech, MCIL  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:04
Member (2006)
English to Polish
+ ...
classics of literature Jul 12, 2009

In his/her target language. It it great help in polishing ones language.

BR


 

Niraja Nanjundan  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:34
German to English
Not just in the target language... Jul 12, 2009

Stanislaw Czech wrote:
In his/her target language. It it great help in polishing ones language.


.... ideally translators should read or should have read at least some of the classics and contemporary literature in their source language as well. It helps in understanding the mentality, culture and attitudes of people living in the countries of your source language, which can be very important in translation work. Reading literary works by good authors of your source language also improves your fluency in reading and comprehension, which can be a great asset when doing translations.

Personally, I think reading about the history, folklore, current affairs, etc. of the countries where both source and target languages are spoken is also quite important, but I know some people find history a bit boringicon_wink.gif


 

Amy Duncan  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 01:04
Portuguese to English
+ ...
Great! Jul 12, 2009

Tomás Cano Binder, CT wrote:

"The secret diary of Adrian Albert Mole, aged 13-3/4" by Sue Townsend, and its sequels. Condensed British society of the 80's at its best!!

[Edited at 2009-07-12 11:23 GMT]


Love, love, LOVE these! And the TV version, too, which I was able to buy online on CD many years after they stopped running it in the USA.


 

Juliana Brown  Identity Verified
Israel
Local time: 00:04
Member (2007)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Absolutely Adrian Mole, but also... Jul 12, 2009

anything by the late genius Compton Mackenzie- Whiskey Galore, The Monarch of the Glen, etc. Mackenzie had an incredible way with the English language, and a command of nuance given to few. Also, any Flashman or MacAuslan stories by George MacDonald Fraser.
In Spanish, anything by Roberto Fontanarrosa, whose humour hid a startling knowledge of literatures and cultures from all over the world.


 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 06:04
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Lots of source language Jul 12, 2009

Niraja Nanjundan wrote:
.... ideally translators should read or should have read at least some of the classics and contemporary literature in their source language as well. It helps in understanding the mentality, culture and attitudes of people living in the countries of your source language, which can be very important in translation work.

Absolutely. Reading a lot in the source language is critical. Too many Spanish translators neglect that aspect of their «learning time» and the result is quite visible in their work.

[Edited at 2009-07-12 14:43 GMT]


 

Viachaslau  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 06:04
English to Russian
+ ...
The Scandals of Translation Jul 12, 2009

I also quite enjoyed "The Scandals of Translation" by Lawrence Venuti. This is non-fiction.
The book is quite exciting, though i couldn't get the nitty-gritty of some bits, as they showed inadequate translation in the language pairs which are not exactly mine.icon_smile.gif


 

Harvey Utech  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:04
German to English
If English is Your Source or Target Jul 12, 2009

"The Mother Tongue: English and How It Got That Way" by Bill Bryson--witty and informative. Explains the history of the language as well as why and how it is spoken the way it is in the many parts of the world.

 

Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:04
Flemish to English
+ ...
Some Titles... Jul 12, 2009

Some titles : "Miseria y esplendor de la traducción" by Ortega y Gasset. It is not a book, but an essay on the misery (impossibility) and the beauty of translation and it is a doctoral thesis in the form of a book by Ordóñez López, Pilar. "Rayuela"(Hopscotch) by Cortázar,
100 años de soledad by GG.Marquez.

In German: Der Blechtrommel, Im Westen nichts neues, Die verlorene Ehre der Katharina Blum, Die Abenteur des braven Soldaten Schweijk, M.K. by A.H. (to understand how Germany in the 30-ies of last century was possible).

English: Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad (a non-native speaker), Sherlock Holmes,
The power and the glory by Graham Greene, Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens, The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, The Raven by A.E.Poe, "Inspector Poirot" by Agatha Christie, Dreams of my father by the current U.S.president....

Les misérables by Hugo, "A la recherche du temps perdu" by Proust (always nice to practise French sentence analysis), in Dutch-Flemish: Het verdriet van België by Hugo Claus and in Dutch-Dutch: "Turks Fruits" by Jan Wolkers.

Italian: Umberto Eco: in il nome della rosa, Guareschi Giovanni: Don Camillo series

and as said above: at least the classics, novels and plays in your native and target-languages.

[Bijgewerkt op 2009-07-12 16:07 GMT]


 

Nguyen Dieu  Identity Verified
Vietnam
Local time: 11:04
Member (2008)
English to Vietnamese
+ ...
The adventure of English Jul 12, 2009

The adventure of English - The biography of a language by Melvyn Bragg

Includes one book and DVDs with topics: "The birth of a language"..... to...."Many tongues called English one world language".


 

Clarisa Moraña  Identity Verified
Argentina
Local time: 01:04
Member (2002)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Everything! Jul 12, 2009

From classics to poetry, newspapers, reviews or history books...
A translator should get acquainted with good literature, with culture, be informed about politics, history, everything related to the culture of the translated languages... and if he/she is going to be a technical translator, he should read the literature in that specific field. The most important of it, to read everything in the original language.

In few words, a translator should read everything!


 

LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:04
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...

Prawi  Identity Verified
Austria
Local time: 06:04
German to Italian
Another one Jul 12, 2009

"Dire quasi la stessa cosa- Esperienze di traduzione", by Umberto Eco. Of course in italian, but it has been translated into many other languages, here's the ones I've found:

English: Experiences in Translation
French: Dire presque la même chose : Expériences de traduction
German – Quasi dasselbe mit anderen Worten. Über das Übersetzen
Portuguese – Quase a mesma coisa
Russian – Сказать почти то же самое : опыты о переводе
Spanish – Decir casi lo mismo

A real must read, especially for literature translators.

Paola

[Bearbeitet am 2009-07-12 17:52 GMT]


 
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