• Loie Favre

Top 3 translation books you have to read

Updated: May 10

Translation, one of civilization’s oldest professions, is more than word for word art. So much more needs to be put into it than stringing together singular words to make a sentence. With technology and translation machines, it’s easy for one to think that translation is a dying art. But history tells us otherwise. There will always be language and culture gaps that need bridges that only the human brain can build. Why? Because next to a human brain, we also have a heart. This allows for a translator to acquire a feel for the soul of a text, digging deeper into its meaning and cultural context. I too had my qualms about whether translation was a worthwhile area to study and purse as a career, thinking that I would be out of a job thanks to advancing technologies, but I soon realized this: we translators are needed more than ever in this age of globalization. The future of the world depends on the skills of translators. No machine can take that away.

With that being said, if you would like to pursue a career in translation, here are my top must-read books to get you on the right foot (this list is by no means comprised for marketing purposes and I won't make money in its publishing):


Translators through History

Edited and directed by Jean Delisle and Judith Woodsworth


Translators through History gives the reader a rundown of the translation history of countries where it is the most remarkable, and has a huge impact on translation of today. The neat thing about Translators through History is that it is a compilation of works of over 70 authors, translators and proofreaders, all stemming from different countries. Here they examine even the earliest Sanskrit to modern day translations. It is an absolutely fascinating read and I recommend it to anyone who is not only interested in translation but languages as well, as it delves into the history of languages. In fact, the development of language and translation are deeply intertwined.


How to succeed as a freelance translator

By Corinne McKay


When I started my freelance business, How to succeed as a freelance translator was my bible. I’d go to it in every situation, as I was sure I could find the answer to my question. Reading it was refreshingly enlightening and made the entire journey to independence a much more fluid one. Her tips and genuine understanding of the business make it a must-read for anyone who wants to embark down this road. Even experienced translators could learn a thing or two (and that is just an understatement). I look forward to reading more from Corrine McKay such as her book called Thoughts on Translation.


In Other Words: A Coursebook on Translation (Paperback)

By Mona Baker


This last selection is a no brainer: In Other Words is the textbook for translation students worldwide and deserves a lot of acclamation. Though it may seem a little daunting at first, within its pages you will learn the fundamentals of translation, which are important in this field, compared to Corrine’s McKay’s How to succeed as a freelancer translator, which puts theory into practice and helps launch your business. In Other Words gives you the theoretical knowledge necessary for the craft of translating. Before you commence anything in this field, do read this book and reap its benefits.


I am certain there are a lot more books out there that will give you more insight into translation, however these three made the biggest impact on my career and were fascinating reads that I highly recommend.


Do you know of any other good books on the same topic? Let me know in the comments below!

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