1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: Duolingo
  4. >
  5. Translation of book titles: l…


Translation of book titles: literal or actual?

In the Immersion translations, should the name of books (for example) be translated literally, or to the actual name in the target language? Obviously only relevant when those two differ.

July 5, 2013



If these books exist in the target language, of course use their actual titles. It is also a good practice to include the original title in parentheses. For example, if you translate about some French writer whose books were translated into English, look for their English titles and use them with the original French titles in parentheses.

If you translate a French article about an English writer, use just the original English titles.


I feel that any name, whether book, person, town, street etc, should stay in the language of the article. There needs to be a general consensus for the translations.


I would vote for the original names. Especially if nobody has heard of the book or whatever under the English name. In an immersion exercise I found the Italian song name "La Bella Elena." I left it alone because it wouldn't help anyone to read "The Lovely Helen."


Exactly, please guys no more "mister cherry"... :P


"The Divine Comedy" is OK because English speakers know what that is. However, "Dante's Hell" would be overtranslating. Similarly for "I Tacchi, " the name of a rock formation in Sardinia, translated as "The Heels." That's not what the locals call it, and English speakers who want to look it up won't find it under that name. (I'm not even sure that's what it means in the local language.)


Is there really an answer to this question, thinking of all the books in the library that are translations most have the title translated. Since the title is the first impression a reader has I think it would be more attactive if all Eng. readers could understand and not be put off by an incomprehensib,e foreign title. And what about alphabets that are unintelliglble to many Eng. (Greek, Russian, Chinese etc) I'd prefer as some here have suggested at least have both.


For any media, but particuarly books, it is worth a simple Google lookup to see if there is an accepted title in the target language. If that title then differs significantly from the literal translation of the original, include the original title in brackets. If no version in the target language exists, maintain the original title as if a Proper Name. I refer to media in general as one can easily imagine the Quebec government putting out an English and a French version of a public service video, identical other than delivery language, for which referencing the English title in a translation would be entirely appropriate.


That's about the plan I've adoped. Thanks for the feed back.

Learn a language in just 5 minutes a day. For free.