Translating book titles when mentioned in passing
Thread poster: daruthie

Local time: 13:44
Spanish to English
+ ...
Apr 25, 2006


I have searched but can't find the answer, though I'm sure it's a common question.

I'm translating a text (ES-EN) on literature and have lots of titles of books by my author. I have been translating the title in brackets the first time it appears, but leaving it in the original for the remainder of the document. Is this common practice, or is it preferable to use the English translation (not always official as some of the works have not been published in English yet).

My other dilemma is that lots of works are mentioned in passing (books, articles, etc. that have influenced my author or are recommended reading). Should I use the same convention for these? The reason I ask is that many are notes in the margin and I am trying to keep them as succinct as possible so that they don't go off the page and make the translation messy.



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Trevor Butcher
Local time: 13:44
Keep things simple, where possible Apr 25, 2006

There are probably as many opinions on this as there people to offer them.

The most important thing is to be consistent, and also to make sure that your solution is:

- approved by your customer
- is the optimal for the text / use of the text (including where it will be published
- is easy to understand

If you find that the method you choose becomes less and less efficient as you go through the text, do not be afraid to go back and adjust it - if you have time.

But the solution you describe would be acceptable to me as an author and reader - but who am I

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Mihail M Mateev
Local time: 14:44
English to Bulgarian
+ ...
imho Apr 25, 2006

If there is an English translation of the articles/books/etc. - write them in English.

If there is no English translation (or you are not aware of it) - leave the original Spanish title, and it is possible to translate in brackets the title, just for information, in English (when the title occurs first time). In the successive occurances of the same title, leave the Spanish original title.

Kind regards,

[Edited at 2006-04-25 14:52]

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Derek Gill Franßen  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:44
German to English
+ ...
Translating titles... Apr 25, 2006

I think your method is fine (it also happens to be my method). I also agree with my colleagues above: Consistency is the key, i.e. you'll probably have to apply your method to the titles in the margins as well (IMHO). Most of the time, they (your client) will do some cosmetic editing anyway, so it may not turn out too bad after all.

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Local time: 13:44
Spanish to English
+ ...
Thank you very much! Apr 26, 2006

Thank you all for your input. I have decided to stick with my method of translating everything just the once, in brackets after the original, using the published English translation where there is one (or where I can find it).

One final question, my text has a lot of this kind of thing in it and I'm still not sure that mine is the right method:

"This text contains undertones of Sartre's The Age of Reason and Baudelaire's Hymn to Beauty".

Would you follow the same convention for this sort of thing too, i.e. translation in brackets afterwards? Does translating the titles of the works add anything to the text? I know that I've used non-English authors in this example, but my brain is fried and I wanted to give an example in English, so please ignore that aspect.

Thanks again!


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Armorel Young  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:44
German to English
Don't mislead people Apr 28, 2006

I'm only echoing Misho's point, which is spot-on. If you put a title in English, people will assume that the book/poem actually exists in English with that title, and could spend time fruitlessly searching for it. It's no good referring to Hans Schmidt's "History of the World" if people can't actually go off to a bookshop and ask for it by that title. So if the "History of the World" only exists in the original foreign language make it clear that you are providing the translation of the title for information only and that the work as such is not available in the translated language.

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Translating book titles when mentioned in passing

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