101 things a translator needs to know but doesn’t necessarily think to ask

Book: 101 things a translator needs to knowIt’s always good to find a new book on translation – for reading yourself or as a gift for a translator friend.

101 Things a Translator Needs to Know contains “over 500 years’ collective experience in translation pondered, distilled and published: nuggets of translation wisdom from prominent exponents of the profession”.

The introduction describes 101 as “a book for beginners. It’s also a book for seasoned professionals, students and teachers. For freelancers and staff translators. For amateurs and experts, generalists and super-specialists — be they certified and sworn, recognised, authorised… or simply tantalised by translation’s potential for a varied and enriching career”.

A translator’s handbag/man-bag book

I’d describe 101 Things a Translator Needs to Know as the translator’s ideal handbag/man-bag (sorry!) book. It’s the sort of book to dip into rather than read at one sitting. You could read it in one go if you wanted, as each of the 101 “things” is only about 100 words long. But I don’t think that’s what the authors intended, and I suspect it would give you translation indigestion. It’s great for those times when you want to read snippets rather than get engrossed in a novel, say. So, during a short train or bus journey, in the doctor’s waiting room, or during your tea/coffee-break. Or, to put you in a good mind-set, first thing in your working day when you sit down at your ergonomically appropriate desk (nugget no. 25: You only live once).

You can read 101 in order, or dip in at random. You can also dip back in again over time, because each snippet serves as a reminder of the things we probably know we should be doing, but sometimes forget.

My own favourite nugget of advice in the whole book is:

Good translators always put themselves in their readers’ shoes (nugget no. 45: There’s more to translation than meets the eye). So true!

Spot the contributor

If you’ve attended presentations or read articles by any of the contributing translators, you could play a “spot the contributor” game as you read the book. Here’s the full list of contributors and here are the ones on Twitter (and whose accounts aren’t locked): Chris DurbanTerence Lewis, Nick RosenthalRos SchwartzRannheid SharmaLois Thomas and the creator of the illustrations, Catherine Anne Hiley (sister of translator Margaret Hiley, who no doubt provided plenty of translation insights).

Other posts you might like:

Not love, not money, it’s translation that makes the world go round

Gifted in translation: specialist publishers

Gifted in translation (3): The Little Prince

By Marian Dougan

Published by Marian Dougan

Marian is a translator and editor (specialising in web content) currently based in Glasgow, Scotland. Marian previously lived in Italy for over 20 years, working as a language teacher, translator and policy analyst with the British Embassy in Rome. A qualified member of the Institute of Translation and Interpreting (ITI) and its Italian-language and ITI Scotnet networks, she is currently Scotnet's Convenor and Deputy Webmaster. From 2003 to 2006 Marian taught translation skills at the Italian Department of Glasgow University and now gives Master Classes as part of the new Masters in Translation Studies course. She also conducts web-writing and usability workshops to help people improve their websites and communicate more effectively with their readers, users and customers. In September 2014 Marian obtained User Experience Certification, with specialisation in Web Design, from the Nielsen Norman Group. She loves language, especially English, and is convinced that learning languages opens up people’s minds and horizons (and increases their brainpower!). To share her enthusiasm, she advises schools and educational authorities on language skills and enterprise. She gives talks to pupils on how to combine language studies with other subjects and so enhance their potential and increase their career options. Marian is an active member of organisations such as: Scottish Council Development and Industry (SCDI); Association of Scottish Businesswomen; Dunbartonshire Chamber of Commerce and the Italian Chamber of Commerce in Scotland. She also loves architecture, design, fashion (British Vogue!), cities and chocolate. She’s a great fan of Twitter and you can also find her on Linkedin.

Join the conversation


Leave a comment

Have your say!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.