Translation books

Translation requires technical skills, cultural sensitivity, an understanding of the market and a constant urge to acquire new information. With this is in mind, here are five suggestions for books that may help step up your skills, regardless of your experience or the languages you work with.

Becoming a Translator, Douglas Robinson
For beginners, we recommend Becoming a Translator by Douglas Robinson, an introduction to translation as a practice and profession. It looks at technical and cultural issues, provides information on market dynamics and suggests technology for working quickly and efficiently. The latest edition includes chapters about multimedia and audiovisual translation, the major changes brought about by the Internet and online tools and communities and the latest development in translation technologies. The book also recommends activities and exercises to help translators hone their skills.

The Prosperous Translator, Chris Durban and Eugene Seidel
Chris Durban and Eugene Seidel (also known as Fire Ant & Worker Bee) have been sharing their wisdom in a regular column in the Translation Journal since 1998. They believe that translators need to take a business approach. They should invest in themselves and their skills, expand their contacts and share experiences. The Prosperous Translator contains good, practical advice for anyone wishing to work in professional translation: preparing a quote for a translation, finding clients, learning the difference between being a freelancer and working for a translation agency, formatting content correctly and organising your workplace, among others.

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Diversification in the Language Industry: Success beyond translation, Nicole Y. Adams
Translation is going through a period of profound change. The globalisation of markets and information, the Internet and new machine translation technologies are some of the factors that are changing the paradigm of an age-old profession.  How can you sustain an occupation in a climate of automation of language tasks, technological massification and cost reduction? This is a question that Nicole Y. Adams endeavours to answer in Diversification in the Language Industry: Success beyond translation. She suggests diversifying activities and skills as pivotal in getting on in a career as a translator. The book contains accounts from translators who have managed to adapt, acquire new skills and introduce variety to their careers. It includes chapters on transcreation, terminology services, post-editing, online tools and strategies for management and marketing and for professional translation.

After Babel, Georges Steiner
This profound work was published by the intellectual Georges Steiner in 1975. It is a seminal work in the field of translation studies and addresses its theory and practice since the 18th century. After Babel reflects on linguistics, culture and literature and the importance of translation in the evolution of politics, technology and society itself. Steiner states that all human communication is basically a kind of translation and interpretation of the world around us. You can buy the original or a Portuguese translation at physical and online stores.

Lost in Translation: An Illustrated Compendium of Untranslatable Words from Around the World, Ella Frances Sanders
This illustrated book explains 50 words that are ‘untranslatable’ into English. Each of them is accompanied by a definition and an illustration showing its meaning. Here we can find the Portuguese word ‘saudade’, a Swedish word for a traveller’s sense of anticipation before a trip and an Italian word defining the need to cry when listening to a story. “Lost in Translation” shows that each language is a different way of seeing the world, a fascinating reality that all translators need to be aware of