The art of translation : A study of book titles translated from English into Swedish and from Swedish into English

University essay from Karlstads universitet/Estetisk-filosofiska fakulteten

Abstract: The purpose of this paper is to investigate the process of translating a book title from English into Swedish and vice versa. I have investigated the different methods used when translating a title, as well how common each strategy is. By contacting publishing companies and translators in Sweden, I learned of the process of adapting a title from the source language into a foreign market and the target language. Studying 156 titles originally published in English, and 47 titles originally written in Swedish, I was able to see some patterns. I was particularly interested in what strategies are most commonly used. In my study I found nine different strategies of translating a book title form English into Swedish. I have classified them as follows: Keeping the original title, Translating the title literally, Literal translation with modifications, Keeping part of the original title and adding a literal translation, Adding a Swedish tag to the English title, Adding a Swedish tag to the literal translation, Translation with an omission, Creating a new title loosely related to the original title and finally Creating a completely different title. In the study of titles translated from Swedish into English, I found eight different translation strategies; seven of the strategies were the same as in the translation of titles from English into Swedish. The one method that differed is called Translation with an addition. The study of titles originally published in Swedish was much smaller; and yet more variety and creativity was shown in the translations. The conditions for translating from Swedish into English are different since English readers normally have no knowledge of Swedish. Names of characters and places for example, are very likely to sound very odd to an English reader, and therefore more translations are necessary. Swedish readers on the other hand are generally relatively proficient in English since they are exposed to the language naturally in their everyday lives through for example, television. Therefore it was easier to stay close to the original in the translations from English into Swedish.

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