What are the top 3 most valuable books to read about translation?
I’m going to answer this by going a bit outside the box. Here are five books, three of which are not about translation at all, but rather about writing—because translators are writers, first and foremost. Admittedly, we don’t always get a chance to put our writing skills into play, for example, when we’re translating trilingual (or more) instruction manuals for cell phones or a legal contract, but this is still important. Book #1: The Elements of Style, by Strunk and White (from my alma mater and also of Stuart Little and Charlotte’s Web fame). Book #2: Because incorrect grammar can kill a good translation, and grammar isn’t always being taught in the schools these days, Eats, Shoots and Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation by Lynn Truss. Obviously there are other issues involved in grammar—such as capitalization and so forth—but this is a light-hearted approach that makes it clear why a comma counts . (I have seen another book called—and this is #3--Woe Is I that may well do the same thing for grammar. It’s on my get-to bookshelf reading list.) #4: I recently read a book on translation that impressed me more than most books do with its practicality and usefulness, despite its being written from a British perspective, A Practical Guide for Translators, by Geoffrey Samuelsson-Brown. Finally, there’s one more book on my to-read bookshelf that I’ve heard excellent comments about, and that might well supplant G S-B: Translation as a Profession, by Roger Chriss. This is #5.
-By Adriana Tassini
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