Books about translation

Here  is a list of some books about translation, both theoretical and practical,  that you may find interesting.

  • Gary Smith (2016) Confessions of a Freelance Translator: Secrets to Success, 339 pp. “Gary Smith speaks from extensive experience and shares his knowledge in an accessible and entertaining way.”
  • Matthew Reynolds (2016) Translation: a very short introduction, Oxford UP, 160 pp. “Offers an authoritative account of the field of translation, covering the whole history of translation.”
  • Robin Setton and Andrew Dawrant (2016) Conference Interpreting – A Complete Course, Benjamins Publishing, 470 pp.
  • Emma Wagner et al., (2014) Translating for the European Union Institutions, St. Jerome Publishing, 152 pp. Written by three experienced translators from the European Commission.
  • WLF Think Tank (2014) 101 Things a Translator Needs to Know, WLF Publishing, 222 pp. Insights and tips from professional translators working in various areas.
  • Andrew Morris (2014) The Book of Standing Out: Travels through the inner world of freelance translation, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 172 pp. Morris suggests that “much of our success in freelance life is down to what goes on inside our heads: our sense of personal and professional autonomy, our awareness of the unique contributions we all have to make and the attitudes we cultivate”.
  • Tess Whitty (2014) Marketing Cookbook for Translators: Foolproof recipes for a successful freelance career, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 280 pp. “A must-have for high-aiming translators – Tess Whitty’s ‘Marketing Cookbook For Translators’ is a simple and easy to follow guide that ensures any translator reading it will not get lost in the crowd”.
  • Esther Allen and Susan Bernovsky (eds) (2013) In Translation: Translators on their work and what it means (Columbia UP). An anthology featuring essays by some of the world’s most skilful writers and translators, including Haruki Murakami, Alice Kaplan, Peter Cole, Eliot Weinberger, Forrest Gander, Clare Cavanagh, David Bellos, and Jos Manuel Prieto.
  • Corinne McKay (2013) Thoughts on Translation, Two Rat Press, 150 pp. Useful tips on topics such as charging clients, receiving payments from clients in foreign countries and how to write a resume targeted at agencies. See also her book on ‘How to succeed as a freelance translator’.
  • Lloyd Bingham (2013) The Translator Diaries. An ebook with practical advice on starting out as a professional translator with advice from successful freelancers, compiled by a senior in-house translator.
  • Morry Sofer (2013) The Translator’s Handbook (Schreiber Publishing). Now in its 8th edition (352 pp), this is a practical handbook with sections on ‘Translation Careers’, ‘Work Sources Directory’, ‘Internet for Translators’ etc.
  • Nataly Kelly and Jost Zeche (2012) Found in Translation: How Language Shapes Our Lives And Transforms The World, Perigee, 288 pp. A mildly entertaining book for the lay reader with examples of the challenges faced by translators and interpreters in some specialist areas, and the occasional amusing mistranslation. See Publishers Weekly for review.
  • Jean Delisle and Judith Woodsworth (2012) Translators through History, revised edition (Benjamins Translation Library), 363 pp. An account of how translators have contributed to the development of languages, the emergence of literatures, the dissemination of knowledge and the spread of values.
  • Corinne McKay (2011) How to Succeed as a Freelance Translator, 2nd edn; Two Rat Press, 208 pp. One of the first practical guides for freelance translators when first published in 2006, and probably the best known. The second edition has new sections including one on marketing to agencies and direct clients.
  • Mona Baker (2011) In Other Words: A Coursebook on Translation, 2nd edn; Routledge, 352 pp. A practical and theoretical guide to translation studies.
  • Andrea Tassini (2011) The Translator Training Textbook: Translation Best Practices, Resources & Expert Interviews. (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 292 pp.). This textbook, written by the founder of the ‘Certified Translation Professional’ programme, contains free videos, a discussion of ethics, practical career advice, a glossary of critical translation industry terms,  expert interview transcripts from successful translators in the industry and references to other books about translation.
  • David Bellos (2011) Is That a Fish in Your Ear?: Translation and the Meaning of Everything, Particular Books, 400 pp. Covers a variety of topics such as linguistics, philosophy, dictionaries and machine translation, but the academic background of the author sometimes makes the treatment a little pompous.
  • Judy & Dagmar Jenner (2010) The Entrepreneurial Linguist: The Business-School Approach to Freelance Translation; available from, 200 pp. A practical guide, including chapters on marketing, pricing and social media.
  • Chris Durban (2010) The Prosperous Translator: Advice from Fire Ant & Worker Bee; available from, 280 pp. This is a collection of questions and answers that originally appeared in a column in the Translation Journal between 1998 and 2010. They are organised into topics such as ‘Marketing and finding clients’, ‘Specializing’, ‘Ethics’ and ‘Quality of Life’. Although the comments are occasionally a bit repetitive (understandable given the nature of the book), there is a lot of useful advice here.
  • Lawrence Venuti (2008) The Translator’s Invisibility: A History of Translation (2nd edn.) “Venuti explains that translations have forced massive shifts in the Western literary canon and led to evolutions in literature and academic theory over time, and to influencing the vision that societies have of foreign cultures.”
  • Daniel Gouadec (2007) Translation as a Profession, John Benjamins Publishing, 409 pp. Vilelmini Sosoni gave a very positive review of this book in the Journal of Specialised Translation, but I didn’t find it very helpful.
  • Vicent Montalt Resurrecció and María González Davies (2007) Medical Translation Step by Step – Translation Practices Explained, St Jerome Publishing, 252 pp. This book deals with the basics of medical translation and with learning how to translate medical texts. It has a good list of Greek and Latin roots of medical terms, which would be more useful if the roots were in alphabetical order. See review in the Journal of Specialised Translation.
  • Sandor Hervey et al. (2006) Thinking German Translation, Taylor & Francis, 256 pp. A practical and theoretical guide to the process of translating German to English.
  • Umberto Eco (2004) Mouse or Rat? Translation as Negotiation, Phoenix, 208 pp. A rather tedious discourse on the finer points of literary translation, with extensive examples from the numerous translations of the author’s own work.
  • George Steiner (1998) After Babel – Aspects of language and translation, Oxford University Press, 3rd edn.  Steiner is a trilingual polyglot and philosopher who covers many aspects of language and translation in this book – one of the few books about translation that has something interesting to say. Chapter 3 (‘The claims of theory’) contains many useful references to the German, French and English literature on the theory and practice of translation, but the academic style demands some patience and persistence on the part of the reader.

For more books about translation, see also ‘Recommended books for translators and interpreters’.

More books about translation and other resources

  • Wiki guide to UK vs US spelling. A useful guide (supplementary to MS Word’s spell check) for differences between US and UK spelling.
  • Resources for Translators. A categorised list of resources relevant to the translation industry and translation technology, including a DE-EN-DE glossary of terms used in the translation industry.
  • See also Dictionaries.