Translated fiction sells better in the UK than English fiction, research finds

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Ikram Mahyuddin  Identity Verified
Indonesia
Local time: 11:56
English to Indonesian
+ ...
Good news May 11, 2016

It's certainly a good news for fellow translators there. However, I believe that UK has good fiction writers too.

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Texte Style
Local time: 05:56
French to English
indeed May 12, 2016

I remember translating a report a while ago about the fact that British literature was translated far more into foreign languages than vice versa. If my memory serves me correctly, at least 25% of books bought in France are translations, and at least 90% of those translations were from English.
This is partly driven by the fact that everyone learns English and therefore at least a bit about culture in English-speaking countries, whereas native English speakers don't learn foreign languages much - why bother when the foreigners can all speak English!

So if an author does get translated, it's because they're jolly good, which means they enjoy success, which then encourages publishers to publish other translations. Looks like it's on a lovely upward curve as a result.


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 04:56
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Not exactly May 12, 2016

Texte Style wrote:

So if an author does get translated, it's because they're jolly good...


Not exactly. It's because their agent has been able to sell them and get exposure for them.

There is a very great deal of good fiction being written in English, but not in the UK. In Ireland, India, Australia, and perhaps above all in the United States.


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Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 05:56
English to Polish
+ ...
... May 16, 2016

Fiction writing requires a certain skill set fiction translators may not have — and certainly not on par with a mature writer. However, writing quality declines along with the education system, whereas translators are still held to stricter standards than normal writers. In fact, they are often expected to fix bad originals. Hence it's possible translation reflects better writing and even storytelling (if not storybuilding).

Additionally, there's a popular view in the Anglosphere that the quality of a translated work should be judged independently from the quality of the original — which promotes the sycophantic and deceptive ways of translation agencies and supplies them with an excuse to pile more work on the translator with no additional pay through a sort of cognitive reframing. Plus, perhaps largely for this reason, translators from the Anglosphere lean more heavily toward domestication and transcreation, and where the same approach taken by the same translator would degrade a better written book, by contrast, it can help save a poorer one.

[Edited at 2016-05-16 13:14 GMT]


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 04:56
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Interesting May 16, 2016

Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz wrote:

Fiction writing requires a certain skill set fiction translators may not have — and certainly not on par with a mature writer. However, writing quality declines along with the education system, whereas translators are still held to stricter standards than normal writers. In fact, they are often expected to fix bad originals. Hence it's possible translation reflects better writing and even storytelling (if not storybuilding).

Additionally, there's a popular view in the Anglosphere that the quality of a translated work should be judged independently from the quality of the original — which promotes the sycophantic and deceptive ways of translation agencies and supplies them with an excuse to pile more work on the translator with no additional pay through a sort of cognitive reframing. Plus, perhaps largely for this reason, translators from the Anglosphere lean more heavily toward domestication and transcreation, and where the same approach taken by the same translator would degrade a better written book, by contrast, it can help save a poorer one.

[Edited at 2016-05-16 13:14 GMT]


Interesting.

Here's an interesting analysis of how a bad (but very lucrative) Italian writer (Elena Ferrante) can be improved somewhat when translated into English:

http://qz.com/573851/elena-ferrantes-writing-is-better-in-english-than-italian/


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Neptunia
Local time: 05:56
Italian to English
something is missing from the topic heading May 16, 2016

The article is about the sales of literary fiction, not all fiction. Literary fiction is a genre of fiction and though books in this category attract attention for prizes and literary merit, it is far from one of the top-selling genres.

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Translated fiction sells better in the UK than English fiction, research finds

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