Questions tagged [translation]

Questions about changing work from one language to another.

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76
votes
12answers
14k views

How do I translate into a gendered language where the gender would be a spoiler?

I'm (amateurly) writing the subtitles for an English TV show. I'll illustrate my question using a small example, but I'm hoping to receive answers as general as possible. One episode has a sentence ...
23
votes
9answers
36k views

What's the best way to show a foreign language in a manuscript?

What's the best way to show a character speaking a foreign language in a fiction manuscript? Should the foreign words be italicized and include a translation? Should it just be included in the ...
21
votes
4answers
782 views

As a non-native English speaker, Is it better to get translated or get copyedited for long texts?

My English level is average. I can write fluently and my vocabulary is not too limited. With the thought in mind that the end result must be perfect, is it better for me to write my long text (100 ...
20
votes
7answers
4k views

Do publishers really need to translate between UK and US English?

Is there really a need for a book to be translated from UK to US English? I'm nearing completion on my own great work, and just want to know if it is truly worth doing a British and an American ...
18
votes
7answers
6k views

How to describe a mythological creature that English has no vocabulary for?

The term is 妖精, which can be translated into English as "fairy", "elf", "goblin". As noted, the Japanese literature uses 妖精 to describe the European fairy. The English translation of 白骨精 in 西游记 (...
18
votes
7answers
5k views

How to address family members solely by relationship in dialogue?

Most English speakers probably just care about You, Mom, Dad, Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, Grandparents, Great-Grandparents and Ancestors, Children, Grandchildren, etc. That's great... as long as you are ...
14
votes
9answers
507 views

Should I translate my own writings into a second language I also know well?

Nabokov was very discouraged when he translated his Lolita into Russian. And he spent half a year on it. So should I try the translation myself?
14
votes
3answers
1k views

Historical Fiction: using you and thou

Generally speaking, English once used 'you' as the second person plural (equivalent to 'vous' and 'vós') and 'thou' as the second person singular (equivalent to 'tu'). When talking to a person in a ...
12
votes
6answers
3k views

How to handle translation of a language in a comic, while preserving a sense that the language is significant?

I am producing a comic in which a fictional language is frequently spoken. This language (and which characters are able to speak it) is significant to the plot, so it's important that the reader ...
12
votes
7answers
3k views

What language shall they sing in?

I'm writing a middle-grade novel in English. I have time-traveling kids from 1995 America who go to Ancient Egypt to join the Exodus. None of the kids speak anything but English (aside from a few ...
12
votes
1answer
386 views

How are multilingual scenes handled when the story's main language is translated into that of its minor one?

Say you have an English book in which there is a particular dialogue where one of a handful of participating characters is speaking French. In this dialogue the fact that he's speaking French is a ...
11
votes
5answers
761 views

How does one add puns in another language?

Back in college, I took a regular English course that was required for all majors. The teacher just happened to be a grad student in British Literature, so we read a lot of British literature. All the ...
11
votes
6answers
1k views

English words in a non-english sci-fi novel

In the modern world, english is a well-estabilished technical and scientific language. Some terms have become so commonly used that they are accepted in my native tongue (words like "computer", "PC", "...
11
votes
4answers
560 views

Conlang question

Diving (OK, dove) into conlanging for a novel I'm working on. The Conlang is atmospheric and allows for some subplot intrigue, but it's not absolutely essential to the story. I've got basic grammar, ...
10
votes
6answers
25k views

Are music lyrics copyrighted?

I tried to find copyright information about music lyrics, but it is too confusing, because it is related to the usage. There are lots of websites providing lyrics, but it seems they are somehow ...
10
votes
3answers
371 views

How to write to accommodate subsequent automatic translation

The texts I am writing will be translated by people who are not experts in the topic and in some cases by a machine with next to none human editing afterwards. What strategies should I employ to ...
9
votes
8answers
3k views

The use of footnotes to translate foreign words in a novel

I'm writing a fantasy novel and one of my characters speaks in English, but sometimes utters single words in an ancient dead language, and I don't want to abusively use that language. For example: ...
9
votes
9answers
439 views

What's a word for a person who took a very rough story and made it into a book?

I have written a book. Well, actually, my mother-in-law told the story of her experiences as a German forced laborer in the Soviet Union after World War II. This was given in German and recorded ...
9
votes
4answers
2k views

How can I translate my poems in English that it doesn't sound odd/non poetic for English speaker audiences?

There are many translated Persian/Farsi poems in English like The Rubaiyat, by Omar Khayyam, the famous Iranian poet, philosopher, and mathematician, translated by Edward FitzGerald. Unfortunately ...
9
votes
7answers
7k views

Tips for writing sentences like a native speaker

English isn't my native tongue, but I've been writing novels in English for a while. Most of the time, I can be aware of what's grammatically correct and what's not. But making sure that a sentence ...
9
votes
2answers
1k views

Can one be a co-translator of a book, if he does not know the language that the book is translated into?

I am translating a religious book from language A to language B and have hired a student worker to help me. He is a native speaker of language A but does not speak language B at all. What I ask him to ...
9
votes
3answers
344 views

Naming non-English folklore creatures

I'm working on a novel that involves folklore/mythological creatures from mainly the Norse and Scandinavian myths, but in the world of the novel, there exists beings from all cultures. I wish to write ...
8
votes
5answers
449 views

How can I keep my dialogue nuanced and informal without breaking the illusion that the story is a translation (from a fictional language)?

The story I'm writing is in English, but it's set in a constructed world with a range of different languages. The general conceit is that anything the viewpoint character (of which there's more than ...
8
votes
2answers
553 views

How many liberties can one take with syntax and grammar rules when writing poetry?

I've begun writing a small fable in verse for my girlfriend, whereas she gets one part of the story for each day before Christmas starting December 1st. She likes it, however she tells me nearly each ...
8
votes
6answers
207 views

Should one blog in a few languages?

Greetings. I've been blogging for a while now and I do it in Russian. But, some of my English-speaking... AHEM "Internet-friends" are unable to read my personal blog, 'cause they're just not familiar ...
8
votes
2answers
307 views

How does a novel writer explain the meaning of foreign words without giving the English translation?

I am currently reading a historical fiction novel about the Second World War. The characters are German and the setting is Berlin. The author uses German words or short phrases almost routinely, ...
8
votes
1answer
7k views

How can I get permission to translate and republish a book?

I am interested in translating an English book into my native language. How can I get permission to translate the book? Would that also include permission to republish the book in the native ...
7
votes
4answers
3k views

How to avoid specifying the gender in English when the original text does not specify it?

I'm translating a short story from Korean into English. One problem I frequently face is the 'antecedent pronoun agreement' when the original text leaves the 'gender' of the subject unspecified (and ...
7
votes
2answers
68 views

How to handle bad source texts in technical translation?

In technical translation (e.g. of manuals), the quality of the source text often is not very high. This concerns not only the language used, but also the structure of the whole document. Should ...
7
votes
2answers
742 views

Footnotes for Translation purposes

I am writing a novel that includes occasional words or phrases in another language. If I use a footnote to provide a loose translation of the word and that same word appears once or twice more on the ...
7
votes
2answers
1k views

How can I publish a translation of a book?

I'm in the process of translating a book (scientific publication) for private use. If I ever decide to publish it: what is the procedure? Who is the right person to ask for publishing rights and ...
7
votes
3answers
220 views

Who translates made-up words from popular fiction into other languages?

When an author produces a popular fictional work (take Harry Potter) that's translated into many languages not native to the author, who decides how fictional words from that work are translated? In ...
7
votes
4answers
136 views

Plain translation or cultural adaptation?

I've written my first novel in Spanish, my native language. The main character is Spanish and starts in Madrid, then goes to Zürich and ends up in the Alps. I've tried to get it published with no ...
6
votes
6answers
642 views

Can a foreign language novel have English character names?

Situation: My main character is born and raised in a foreign, non-English speaking country. After his 18th birthday he moves due to some circumstances in Great Britain, learns the language and lives ...
6
votes
1answer
300 views

Should I translate myself my writings into english to get a bigger audience?

I'm a native speaking german and learned english in school. So I will probably never be writing and speaking english on the same level as a native speaker or as I do in german. That's why I write in ...
6
votes
1answer
223 views

Are translated Basho poems copyrighted?

I'm wondering if translated works of ancient poems are in the public domain, or if they're copyrighted by the translators. It would seem like if the author on a given work is listed as "Basho", then ...
6
votes
2answers
209 views

How do I include translations without ruining the flow of the text?

A character speaks two languages throughout the whole plot. How to insert the translation of the other language without ruining the layout of the story or text? For example: "Guten tag, Herr X," ...
6
votes
2answers
99 views

Where should I pitch a book of short stories in English accompanied by French translations?

I have a collection of original short stories, all of which have been published in English in literary magazines. A French translator friend recently translated the stories into French (I speak French,...
6
votes
5answers
328 views

How to handle a pidgin language?

Question: In reference to this question about how to show a foreign language in a manuscript, I am wondering: What is the best way to handle a pidgin language in a manuscript? In a wider sense: How ...
6
votes
4answers
1k views

Should I translate foreign names of companies, organisations, political parties etc?

Is it okay to keep foreign names of companies, organisations, etc even if they have official English translations? Example 1: A now defunct limited company in Sweden "Norrbottens Järnverk AB" has ...
6
votes
2answers
55 views

How should we plan for translations' space needs when designing diagrams that require text?

Our documentation set includes some diagrams where text is integral and can't be handled in callouts, like flowcharts and entity relationship diagrams. Our documentation is translated, so these ...
6
votes
1answer
64 views

What editing can I expect for a translation of a previously-published story?

A friend of mine has published a short story in Hebrew, and I'm currently translating it into English, for submission to short fiction magazines. If accepted, will the editing process be any ...
5
votes
6answers
3k views

Believable (but easy) archaic English

Do you know any "shortcuts" to translating passages of my story into believably sounding archaic English? I mean, without taking a full school course? A crash course? An automatic service? A phrase ...
5
votes
3answers
130 views

Can a “Translation Notes” section also be used for terms used in my fictional world?

In the back of the Strawberry Panic Complete Novel Collection there is a "Translation Notes" section explaining some of the terms like genpaku, mogi (Japanese) and financier (French), but it also ...
5
votes
7answers
30k views

How to better describe “jet-black (pitch-black) darkness”?

I'm trying my hand at translating a few Korean literary texts into English. Something I come across often while translating is the phrasing "jet-black(/pitch-black) eyes(/night/darkness)" which ...
5
votes
4answers
171 views

Audio version of copyrighted written material

I want to do a free daily podcast of the Bible. Would I need permission of the copyright holder of the translation I am reading or would this be considered fair use? Would I need to state the source ...
5
votes
2answers
127 views

Is translation work likely to help me develop my own writing abilities?

I've been offered work translating some creative works into English. Is this kind of work likely to push my creative boundaries, and teach me how to be a better write of my own original creative ...
5
votes
3answers
204 views

How to write when thinking in multiple languages?

When writing, scenes come to my mind in different languages mixed together. For example in a single scene a description will be in French, some dialogues in English, with a few words of Spanish and ...
5
votes
3answers
1k views

Why would an author not agree to license his book to a foreign language?

Recently one rather famous author wrote a new book in English. Since I'm a fan of his writing and know that he's quite well recognized I thought that it would be great to translate it and publish in ...
5
votes
3answers
129 views

How to write long extracts in a foreign language?

In my writing there are eight groups of people, each with their own language that they speak. Do I put large amounts of writing into their language or english? Do I write it first in theirs, then in ...