Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing, and Publishing ~

Books and Translations


Most of the readers of this blog come from three English-speaking countries—the U. S. A., Australia, and the United Kingdom (in that order).

However, since there have been substantial numbers of visitors from over 40 countries, I have to assume English is read in many places where it isn’t generally spoken.

I wonder, often, about blogs published in other languages, and their readers

How often is something written in, let’s say, Finnish, read in countries other than Finland?

My main question today, however, is how often do English-speaking readers read books translated from other languages?

A bit of insight could be gained from reading an article from the U.K.’s The IndependentNovel Translation Lets Us Know What Is Really Happening In The World.

Here are a few excerpts:

“Those millions of Britons who refuse to learn any other language always console themselves with a favourite fantasy. The British, they believe, speak the world’s chosen tongue as their birthright. They have won the lottery of globalised life.”

“In fact, they grow up speaking a rich, resourceful but ever-more parochial provincial dialect.”

“…we can at least honour and reward the arts of translation that deliver the world to our doorstep.”

“If many of us won’t learn other tongues, we can in any case cherish and applaud the art of the interpreters who rescue us from the loneliness of the ‘anglosphere’.”

“In the UK, the proportion of literary fiction published in translation has crept up from the oft-quoted 3 per cent to something nearer 5 per cent. Since the entire output of British publishers has expanded crazily, that modest growth hides the good news that total numbers of translations have expanded by almost two-thirds.”

But, that’s only the U.K.

What about Australia?

What about the United States?

And, especially to the folks out there who are reading this in a non-English-speaking country, are the books in your native tongue being translated into English?

And, what percentage of books written in English are translated into other languages—and, how many other languages?

I suppose I could do some research; but, I’m going to keep wondering and hoping that a few of my readers will share what they know in the Comments :-)

Also, you may be interested in checking out my past post, Readers Educated About Reading Translations.

Finally, because most of my readers live in English-speaking countries (and a substantial number of readers in non-English-speaking countries continue to visit), I’ll share the link to an article on CounterPunch100 Best Novels, in Translation, Since 1900.
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For Private Comments or Questions, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com

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4 responses to “Books and Translations

  1. Nicole July 15, 2015 at 2:07 pm

    My childhood favorite, Anne of Green Gables, was written in 1908 and has been translated into 20 languages. 50 million + copies. Yes, I swiped that from Wikipedia. hehe
    That’s all I got, though.
    I should really learn a new language.
    Great post!

    Like

    • Alexander M Zoltai July 15, 2015 at 2:17 pm

      Thanks for the compliment, Nicole; and, congrats on the new blog :-)

      So, at least, that book has had lots of translation…

      What new language would you learn??

      Like

      • Nicole July 15, 2015 at 4:06 pm

        Thanks. It’s old, but I always clear it off and start over. You know me.
        I started learning Italian, and I did Spanish years ago, but I don’t remember it. French sounds pretty, so maybe that? I don’t know if my mouth will work right, though. I have lazy lips. haha
        Which languages do you know?

        *hugs*

        Liked by 1 person

        • Alexander M Zoltai July 15, 2015 at 4:29 pm

          What a shame you clear out your blog—all those posts lost……….

          I really only know English, NIcole—snippets of Hungarian, Latin, and French—but, really, only English…

          Like

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