11 interesting facts about professional translation

In keeping with this month’s theme of translation and in honour of our own treasured store of freelance translators, we’ve compiled a list of interesting facts about professional translation. It’s mind-boggling to think where we’d be without it.

  1. There are about 330,000 translators in the world, not including the ones that do it informally.
  2. According to Gabriel Garcia Marquez, his book One Hundred Years of Solitude was better in the English translation than in the original Spanish. 
  3. Jose Saramoga“Writers make national literature, while translators make universal literature.” – Jose Saramago
  4. The word “translation” is derived from Latin, and means “the carrying from one place to another.”
  5. While the Unesco Index Translationum claims that Agatha Christie is the most translated author, The Guinness Book of World Records states that it is L. Ron Hubbard.
  6. The term black hole for a collapsed star was opposed by the French, as its literal translation into French is a rude term.
  7. “Translators are the shadow heroes of literature, the often forgotten instruments that make it possible for different cultures to talk to one another, who have enabled us to understand that we all, from every part of the world, live in one world.” – Paul AusterPaul Auster
  8. Tolstoy’s original text for War And Peace in Russian contains 100,000 less words than it’s English translation.
  9. In 2009, HSBC bank had to launch a $10 million rebranding campaign to repair the damage done when its catchphrase “Assume Nothing” was mistranslated as “Do Nothing” in various countries.
  10. The first high quality English translations were from the great English poet, Geoffrey Chaucer, called “grant translateur” by contemporary French poet Eustache Deschamps.
  11. Anthony Burgess

    “Translation is not a matter of words only: it is a matter of making intelligible a whole culture.” -Anthony Burgess

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