December 12th, 2015

#NametheTranslator: Örkény Ajkay of Hungary

In supporting the #PicturesMeanBusiness campaign to get illustrators properly credited for their work, I keep coming across the very similar #NameTheTranslator campaign for translator credits. And it makes sense to campaign for both at the same time, so we don't have to do everything all over again.

Translators have an even harder time than illustrators trying to build up their name as the brand for their business. Whereas most people can look quickly at an illustration and get a sense of it, very few people speak a second language fluently enough to check that an original story and a translated version both read well. It's exciting getting foreign editions of my books with Philip Reeve through the post, but I'm not fluent enough (even in French or Russian which I've studied) to catch any subtle nuances, and the rest could be in Martian for all I know. So unless a native speaker reports back to me, or the book wins an award, I have no idea how well our texts are translated!

But the translator's work means everything to how well the book will go down with people who read it in languages other than English. I don't have much contact with translators, other than on Twitter with Sandra Hessels who works freelance for Veltman, our Dutch publisher, and Gili Bar-Hillel, who translates us into Hebrew for Utz Books. So it was lovely when the Hungarian translator of Oliver and the Seawigs, Örkény Ajkay, popped up with an e-mail to say hello. I thought I'd feature him here on my blog so you can see a little bit of what goes into translating our books.

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