The predicament of translators

Updated: 2014-10-08 08:09

By Xu Mushi(China Daily)

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Comment on "Wanted: a few good decoders" (China Daily, Sept 3)

Good article. It touches on several aspects of the "supply chain" of the book translation sector, from raw products (original Chinese works) to the likes and dislikes of the targeted foreign readers.

As a translator, I'd like to say that there are several reasons why some translators won't translate a given Chinese work. Being busy working on their jobs (as a sinologist in my case) is just one of them. Personally, I hesitate to translate a work unless it is certain to be published, distributed and marketed by a reputable international publisher. The reasons: First, Chinese publishers focus on selecting a book and getting it translated and printed, but tend to be unwilling to pay good money to have it properly edited.

Second, Chinese publishers often do not possess the marketing channels and skills to properly promote books outside China. For a professional literary translator, it is crucial that the books he/she translates are properly proofread, edited and professionally marketed.

Mai Jia's novel Decoded in Spanish translation appears to have been well promoted, but it is an exception. It would be interesting to know who published and promoted it, and arranged for the "road show" that will take Mai's novel to Spain and South America.

XUMUSHI, from China Daily website