Around the world in 15 publishers (so far)

Babel is on a translating spree! This week, early March 2019, I learnt about the fifteenth separate edition, in the twelfth language: German. C.H. Beck of Munich have acquired the rights. I have several of their books on my linguistics shelves, so I’m pretty sure I’ll feel at home there.

Wow. Thanks to Profile Books and Andrew Nurnberg Associates, who make such a great job of selling the translation rights, I can now feel like a one-man multinational. Here’s an updated map of the Babel campaign:

wereldkaart - met BABEL - groot Europa

16 thoughts on “Around the world in 15 publishers (so far)

  1. Hi Gaston. I issue praise sparingly. However I would like to say that I classify you with David Crystal & Samuel Johnson. Lingo made me think differently, Babel did the same. Similar to when I read physics & philosophy. I see the world differently as a result.

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  2. Congratulations! I really enjoyed Babel and learned a lot (I think my favourite chapter was Swahili, and also 2b, although it really put me off Japanese). The book makes a lot of comparisons to English (‘this grammatical construction is similar to English because xxxx’), so how does that translate when put in other languages?

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    • Good question! That depends entirely on the translator. When Lingo, my previous book, came out in seven other languages, some of them would just take the English text and convert it into their language. Others, such as the German, Norwegian and Spanish translators, localised the stories. I think that’s much preferable, as it brings the book closer to its audience, making it more accessible. But then, I believe that Russian readers are very much used to unlocalised books and may even have come to prefer them that way. And frankly, I’m afraid that quite a few passages and even whole chapters of Babel will resist being localised into an East Asian linguistic, historical and cultural context. Even so, I do expect that translators in that region will have quite a few queries – ad those are going to be tough!

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      • That’s very interesting! I suppose localising things makes translation more challenging, but it seems worthwhile to me 🙂 . As a first language English speaker, I definitely found the comparisons to English very helpful and it made every chapter more interesting.

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  3. Dear Gaston,

    Congratulations on your publishing conquests!! We should call you Genghis! On another topic, do you get the Times Literary Supplement? They had a column on your Babel and I can send it to you; I subscribe and get the digital version. It was in the Christmas issue, which I am only just getting to.

    Best, Peggy

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  4. Speaking of counting… The system used by the French and Italians from 20 to 99 is called “vigesimal”, i.e., based on 20. Is there a formal term for the flipped magnitudes of Dutch and German from 21-99? (Or, for that matter, 13-19, in English as well.)

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    • English is no stranger to either of those systems, of course: ‘four scores and seven’, ‘two-and-twenty’. But in reply to your question: no, I don’t know of a specific name for the latter phenomenon.

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