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Help with an English book title
Thread poster: Karin Maack

Karin Maack  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 21:12
Member (2006)
English to German
Feb 11

Dear fellow translators,

this is about a German book that has been translated into English and is now being edited. The subject of the book is singing technique. The German title is simply "Singen lernen". What of the following versions would sound/work better as a book title:

- How to Learn Singing
- Teach Yourself to Sing
- How to Learn How to Sing

And would you expect different content whether the subtitle began with "Methodical tutorial" or with "Systematic training method"? The German original was "Systematische Anleitung".

Your opinion is very much appreciated.


 

Eliza Hall
United States
Local time: 15:12
Member (2018)
French to English
+ ...
This is the English-language publisher's decision Feb 11

Publishers decide what book titles should be, based on a marketing analysis. You can translate the title but don't assume that title will be used in the US (or UK or wherever this publisher is). Publishers don't care about accurate translation of the title nearly as much as they care about whether the title works for the market of potential buyers for this particular book, and their decision on the title will depend on whether the book is published as, for instance, a university/conservatory textbook, a mass-market paperback, etc.

The only translation you suggest that sounds natural in English is the second one (Teach Yourself to Sing). Neither of the subtitles sound like something you would see on a book of this type. The second one is closer, but would likely be shorter in English ("Teach Yourself to Sing: The [Author's name] System" or something like that).


Marzia Bosoni
 

Barbara Carrara  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 21:12
Member (2008)
English to Italian
+ ...
Questions Feb 11

Hi, Karin

First of, I am not an English native speaker and I don't speak German, so I am not going to delve into your title query.
What I am interested in is instead the surrounding information you have provided.
You say that the book is being edited as we speak. Who by? Not by a publisher, I gather, or your question would answer itself, as it would be the publisher and their marketing team to decide the most appropriate title/subtitle for the book and their target audience (amateur singers? singing hopefuls? the tone-deaf?).
Is the book self-published? And if so, hasn't its English translator suggest a suitable title/subtitle, be it the straightforward translation of the original one or something more in tune (see what I did there?) with the English-speaking potential readership?
Thanks for clarifying the above.


 

Karin Maack  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 21:12
Member (2006)
English to German
TOPIC STARTER
Ok, I see I have to be more precise... Feb 11

I certainly know that the publisher will decide about the title and often change it - I have seen that quite often when I translated a book (into German).
But...
The book was translated by me (not an English native speaker) because I am its author and also the publisher (kdp) of the book. So, in the end, it's me who must decide about the title. (And, by the way, the first title was my idea - close to German - the second one that of the editor, a British English native speaker.)


 

neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 21:12
Spanish to English
+ ...
Vielleicht... Feb 11

If the German title is simply "Singen lernen", why not consider something equally brief in English?
For example, "Learn singing". Or if you don't like that, how about "Learn to sing". "Teach yourself singing" is another option… and I'm afraid I'm now running out of ideas.


Hedwig Spitzer Cáceres
 

Eliza Hall
United States
Local time: 15:12
Member (2018)
French to English
+ ...
Sounds odd Feb 11

neilmac wrote:

If the German title is simply "Singen lernen", why not consider something equally brief in English?
For example, "Learn singing". Or if you don't like that, how about "Learn to sing". "Teach yourself singing" is another option… and I'm afraid I'm now running out of ideas.


Learn Singing sounds odd to my ear (native US English, also lived in the UK). We use the infinitive in this context ("learn to sing"). For a book title it could be "Learn to Sing" or, if no teacher is involved, "Teach Yourself to Sing."


Rachel Waddington
MollyRose
Michele Fauble
Hugh Thomson
 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 20:12
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
An alternative title Feb 11

Karin Maack wrote:
The book was translated by me (not an English native speaker) because I am its author and also the publisher (kdp) of the book. So, in the end, it's me who must decide about the title. (And, by the way, the first title was my idea - close to German - the second one that of the editor, a British English native speaker.)

Picking up on something you said in your first post, I'd go for something less literal, e.g. "Singing Techniques". Or for something that's in vogue at present, you could go for "How to: Singing" (or that could be the subtitle).


Helen Shiner
 

Daniel Frisano
Switzerland
Local time: 21:12
Member (2008)
English to Italian
+ ...
Meine zwei Pfennige Feb 11

How about "Learning to Sing"? (From a native of neither language)

Now waiting for the Forum Police to burst in in 3, 2, 1...


Helen Shiner
neilmac
 

Marzia Bosoni  Identity Verified
Ireland
Local time: 20:12
Member (Feb 2019)
English to Italian
+ ...
Teach yourself to sing Feb 11

Eliza Hall wrote:

The only translation you suggest that sounds natural in English is the second one (Teach Yourself to Sing). Neither of the subtitles sound like something you would see on a book of this type. The second one is closer, but would likely be shorter in English ("Teach Yourself to Sing: The [Author's name] System" or something like that).


I definitely agree with Eliza: I would go with "Teach Yourself to Sing" and with a simpler subtitle.
I'm not an English native speaker, but I'm an author (and a reader!) and, if no teacher is involved, I think this is the best title.
Best luck!


 

Richard Purdom  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 20:12
Dutch to English
+ ...
leren zingen Feb 11

I'd go for 'Train your Voice' or 'Teach Yourself to Sing'

 

neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 21:12
Spanish to English
+ ...
Learn singing/Learn to sing Feb 11

Eliza Hall wrote:

Learn Singing sounds odd to my ear (native US English, also lived in the UK). We use the infinitive in this context ("learn to sing"). For a book title it could be "Learn to Sing" or, if no teacher is involved, "Teach Yourself to Sing."



Perhaps it sounds odd to you because it's less frequently used, but I can assure you that the learn + -ING construction is perfectly valid.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2VPRj0d7Oik


 

Helen Shiner  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:12
Member (2008)
German to English
+ ...
@ Karin Feb 11

Depending on the thrust of the book, and given your indications of what the subtitle might be, how about something like: "Teach yourself to sing. A systematic approach." Or you could name the system: "Teach yourself to sing. The XX Method." I'm thinking, for instance, of the Suzuki Method for learning the violin: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suzuki_method

It is hard to make a suggestion for a title unless you know the contents and the audience at which it is aimed. If the intended readers are children, say, a different approach will be needed. But I'm sure you know that.


 

Karin Maack  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 21:12
Member (2006)
English to German
TOPIC STARTER
Many interesting ideas Feb 11

Having received so many suggestions, I decided to look on Amazon (only now!) to see whether there are already books with such titles. There are some with the title "How to Sing" or "Learn to Sing" or "Learn How to Sing" and even one "How to Learn Singing" and a lot of other titles. But none with "Teach Yourself to Sing" (except in a subtitle), so I think I'll stick to that.
My first idea to use "How to Learn Singing" actually came from the fact that this phrase gets about 87,000 Google hits. But when I now think about it - this would probably make a book unidentifiable.
Thanks a lot for your input.


Eliza Hall
 

Karin Maack  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 21:12
Member (2006)
English to German
TOPIC STARTER
@Helen Feb 11

Thanks for that subtitle, I love it!
The intended readers aren't children, but rather those who want to learn singing professionally. When I was young, I studied music and actually wanted to become an opera singer. That didn't work then, but I have always been fascinated by the human voice, and about ten years ago, I started to learn all the things that I hadn't been able to understand and to apply when I was studying. And I was (and still am) my own teacher. Now I am trying to help other people with what I have learned.


Helen Shiner
 

Helen Shiner  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:12
Member (2008)
German to English
+ ...
@ Karin Feb 11

That sounds wonderful. Good luck with your project and finding the right title!

 
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