5 Tips For Translating a Book

Did you know that on September 30 we celebrate International Translation Day?
This day is on the feast of St Jerome, the Bible translator who is considered to be the patron saint of translators. Can you imagine the issues he had to translate the Bible from Hebrew into Latin, without many of the tools we have nowadays?

Luckily, technology has made it a lot less complicated to translate content including books, literary text, novel, etc. However, there are many things that can make a book translation a less than magical experience. That’s why we have put together a list of tips to help you prepare for a book translation.

Here they go:

1. Familiarity. Would the team be suitable for this content? Ask for samples of previous similar work, preferably more than one and also get them to provide some test translations using more than one translator. Translating a piece of the introduction might be enough to realize your preference in regards to tone and writing style.

2. Terminology. How do they plan to tackle the terminology problem? Are they familiar with glossaries and style guides? Can they create a strategy to involve the author in the approval of key terms? Creating a glossary with 2% of the most common terms and reviewing them with your QA team and the author will very likely create an agreed upon terminology base that can make the author your partner in deciding on key terms.

3. Partial deliveries. It’s a good idea to provide the client with partial deliveries, so we can recalculate on queue and not have an issue where the client or the author requires major rework on the entire book.

4. Have doubts? Ask! Any questions about terms or meaning are better asked than assumed especially because readers also interpret things differently. We want to make sure that the translation follows the author’s interpretation of a paragraph, sentence or term and not our own.

5. QA is on us. The final QA must happen after the author has okayed the translation. The reason for this is because they are very likely to enter mistakes or duplicate words. Using these tips will help you not only to get a high quality translation but also to align the translation with the original content and get the author and the client editors onboard with the project.

Translating a Book


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