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Status of Translations and Translators

Nature volume 158, page 616 (02 November 1946) | Download Citation



In his pammlet “On Translations”, reprinted from Life and Leiwrs, Sir Stanley Unwin directs attention to sorhe problems arising in translation from one to another, and to inadequacies and ingctoittiiies still encountered, although during the pas years the quality of translations into English and the status of translators have steadily improved (London: Allen and Unwin, Ltd. Pp. 8. 6cz. net). Sir Stanley emphasizes that first and foremost the translator should be adequately paid, and payment for translation should be a first charge, taking precedence over the author's remuneration. The translator's name should always be given, provided it is his (or her) exclusive work, and it should be a universal practice to print, on the back of the title-page of any translation, the title of the original work. The best remedy for mistranslation and for deliberate tampering with the text is informed criticism; bad translations should be denounced. Authors should help by giving preference to publishers who take pride in the quality of their translations and maintain a high standard; but while the publication of translations is in general more speculative than the issue of original work, Sir Stanley does not agree that the publication of translations should be financed by governments. If, however, for commercial reasons any work of outstanding importance had remained untranslated for, say, five years, governments would be well advised to offer to bear the cost of translation, if a publisher was willing in that event to produce the work at his own risk and expense. The pamphlet also includes some notes on “Our Universal Language”, which stress the importance of the new demand for British books.

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