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Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Translation textbooks

Anonymous has just asked in a post comment:
I would be interested in any comments on the following books. I chose books on Amazon that seemed to address translation theory. Do any seem especially worth reading (or not reading)? I'd also be interested in comments on relevant books not on this list. Thanks!

Baker, In Other Words

Barker, Routledge Encyclopedia of Translation Studies

Biguenet & Schulte, The Craft of Translation (Chicago Guides to Writing, Editing, and Publishing)

Biguenet & Schulte, Theories of Translation: An Anthology of Essays from Dryden to Derrida

Larson, Meaning-Based Translation

Munday, Introducing Translation Studies: Theory & Applications

Robinson, Becoming a Translator

Venuti, The Scandals of Translation

Venuti, The Translation Studies Reader

Venuti, The Translator's Invisibility
Thank you, Anonymous, for asking your questions. They are most appropriate for this blog and should be of help to many of its readers.

I have a number of these books in my library, as well as several others. I'm glad to comment on which books I consider most useful for helping someone understand translation principles and practices.

Of the books listed about, I consider the following to be the ones most helpful for actually learning how to translate well:
Baker, In Other Words

Larson, Meaning-Based Translation (The accompanying workbook gives helpful exercises.)
To that list I would add the following which appear in the Books and journals section of the margin of this blog:
Bible, Babel and Babble (free download)

The Bible Translator

The Challenge of Bible Translation

Inside Translation (free download)

Journal of Translation

Relevance Theory: A Guide to Successful Communication in Translation

The Theory and Practice of Translation

Translation Problems from A to Z
I would add these which are not in the margin of this blog:
Introduction to Semantics and Translation by Katharine Barnwell, 1984, 272 pp., ISBN 0-95036-515-9 $18.00

Teacher's Manual to Accompany Bible Translation by Katharine Barnwell, 1987, 264 pp. $12.00

Beekman, John and John C. Callow. 1974. Translating the Word of God, with Scripture and topical indexes. Grand Rapids: Zondervan. 399 p. (out of print, but available through Alibris and Eisenbrauns, or borrow it through Inter-Library Loan; it's one of the most useful textbooks published on how to do good Bible translation)
UBS (United Bible Societies) has published a number of small books which contain helpful information about Bible translation. I think many of them are anthologies which contain papers presented at some UBS workshops. These books are especially useful because those who contributed to them have actual field experience in Bible translation. Among these books, I have the following which I recommend:
Meaningful Translation: Its Implications for the Reader, ed. by Johannes P. Louw

Style and Discourse: With Special Reference to the text of the Greek New Testament

Language, Society, and Bible Translation, Ernst R. Wendland

Issues in Bible Translation, ed. by Philip C. Stine

Lexicography and Translation, ed. by J.P. Louw
There are a number of newer UBS publications on their Books on Translation Theory and Practice webpage which also look helpful.

I recommend purchasing books by people who have actually done professional translation, including missionary Bible translation. Their books often have very good insights for doing Bible translation well. Many Exegetes and theologians who do English Bible translation, unfortunately, have not interacted with this literature sufficiently. If they did and if they applied the translation principles described in the books, they would create Better Bibles.

Please feel free to comment on books listed in this post or to mention books not listed which you would consider helpful to learning how to do good quality Bible translation.

Now, weren't those good questions from Anonymous? How many of you wish you knew some name, other than Anonymous, by which to address this good visitor to the BBB?

Would you like to know Anonymous by another name?
Free polls from


At Wed Jun 14, 10:12:00 AM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

The author of In Other Words and the Routledge Encyclopedia of Translation Studies is not "Barker" but Mona Baker, "Editor of The Translator and Editorial Director of St. Jerome Publishing" and Professor of Translation Studies at the Centre for Translation and Intercultural Studies of the University of Manchester. She is of Egyptian origin, and in 2002 caused a stir for sacking Israeli scholars from her academic journals.

Beekman and Callow is available from Eisenbrauns for $30, sorry if the URL I gave in a previous comment was wrong. This is the URL for a used copy of Discourse Considerations in Translating the Word of God by Kathleen Callow.

At Wed Jun 14, 10:35:00 AM, Blogger anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At Wed Jun 14, 11:53:00 AM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

While these types of actions are not necessarily linked with the validity of her ideas or writings, they make me want to find out if the similar resources are available from others.

I, too, was disturbed by Mona's decision for that conference, but I would still encourage you to use her book. Her politics are not found in her book and it is one of the best translation textbooks available today in the secular market.


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