Translation3point0 – Literary Translation in the Digital Age

Design by Wendell Minor

Design by Wendell Minor. All rights reserved.

Read latest posts:  

“International Translation Day: In Praise of Data Expertise for Translation Scholars”

“Spain’s female literary voices still lag in translation to English” 

“Whither Hispabooks?” 

“Why Literary Translation Data Matters” 

“An Introduction to Spain in Translation”

In the 21st century we take for granted instant access to world culture. We read news, literature and poetry from around the world often in real time without stopping to think how it is rendered into the language we understand. Nor do we consider how this affects our world view or our understanding of other peoples and cultures.

My name is Katie King. I’ve worked in many areas of journalism and media during my career. Now I’m researching a different kind of story-telling: literary translation. As a doctoral student at the University of Washington’s Department of Spanish and Portuguese, my dissertation research aims to do two things: explore contemporary literary voices of Spain in English and promote the field of translation as an academic discipline. This website is meant to host a conversation about the first and inspire action for the second.

The data on this website has been gathered, organized and made available in spreadsheet form by Chad Post, the Publisher and Editor of Open Letter books at the University of Rochester, and editor of the Three Percent Blog. For the last decade, Chad has been compiling this data on world literature in translation to English and making it available for free (CC License). It is an extraordinary and unique resource which Chad has called his labor of love. However, until recently it was only available as a downloadable Excel spreadsheet.

My mission on this website is to surface a section of this data resource – information on translated works from Spain – and make the information more transparent and easy to search and explore online. Scholars, publishers, translators, authors and those who read Spain’s literature in translation to English will find this online and searchable display of the data a useful resource.

It is also my goal to initiate a discussion on how to grow and improve the information available on literature in translation to English. As I explain in “Why Literary Translation Data Matters,” Chad Post’s work fills a huge gap in translation data. But because he prepares the data by hand, on his own, the scope of the information is limited. For example, it only includes first time translations, not repeat translations. Thus, the newest translations of Don Quixote and other classics of Spain’s literature are not included. This project will query ways the gaps in the data can be filled in a consistent, reliable fashion. One way might be through peer sourcing: contributions from industry participants, experts and readers who comment on this site to provide the additional data. Another way is to lobby publishers and commercial data providers to improve reporting of translation data to libraries.

For my own research and writing on this site, I will use the existing data to analyze how the voices of Spain have been translated into English during the last decade. Who’s been translated, by whom and who are the publishers? What role has technology, such as eBooks, the growth of small specialty publishers, and self-publishing, played in these choices? I will analyze the answers to these questions to understand the impact they have on how the English-speaking world understands Spain in the 21st century.

Finally, this project is one piece of my larger dissertation work. It is a proof of concept for the importance of translation studies at U.S. universities.

Please explore the data on Spain. You can also explore a fuller section of the Three Percent Database that includes all literature in the Spanish language from around the world, translated into English over the last decade.

The data would not be available to research so easily if it weren’t for the coding work of Tom Cranstoun, who’s lent his expertise to this project by developing a WordPress plugin that turns a spreadsheet into a searchable on database.

This is a dissertation project. I’m grateful for the patient guidance of my dissertation director UW Professor Tony Geist, an accomplished literary translator and scholar.

The featured image on this page has been adapted from the cover art for A Form of Resistance, by Luis García Montero, designed by Wendell Minor,

Please note that the full Three Percent Database is now available as a searchable online database on Publishers Weekly.

Photo by Paul Brannan

Katie King

The data underlying this searchable database is under Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial 4.0 International License to Chad Post and the University of Rochester.

The Translation3point0 website and the articles and the searchable database on it are under Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial 4.0 International License to Katie King.