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Author Topic: English to English Translations  (Read 4641 times)

English to English Translations
« on: September 12, 2011, 09:18:06 PM »
The best advice I can give, speaking purely as a reader of reviews, is to be honest. A review should be written with the potential reader of the work being reviewed in mind. A good reviewer can dislike something without being unnecessarily scathing or harsh. A review is a work of journalism and journalistic integrity is doubly important in a largely unaccredited medium such as the web (not that accreditation means much in terms of integrity, these days - A different post for a different time).

The only slight note of caution I would add is to avoid using idiom and colloquialisms in the work as minus points. Mention it of course, for the benefit of your compatriots, but don't make it into a major point of negative critique. There's surprisingly vociferous proponents both for and against Americanisation of British fiction and why dip your toes in those waters? Make mention and let readers decide for themselves if this is likely to be an issue for them or not. It's unlikely to bother a British, Australian or New Zealander reader that much and the web is an international medium, after all. Who knows where your readership will come from? (Hint: At least one reader is very likely indeed to come from central Northumberland in England. ;))

I havemy first fantasy novel coming out in November, "The Banned Underground" and the publisher is busy translating all the non dialogue prose into 'american' to avoid potential bad reviews.....

Offline AnneLyle

English to English Translations
« Reply #1 on: September 12, 2011, 09:26:27 PM »
I havemy first fantasy novel coming out in November, "The Banned Underground" and the publisher is busy translating all the non dialogue prose into 'american' to avoid potential bad reviews.....

And you let them do that? Rather you than me.

No offence, mate, but they don't look like they have much of a track record to base that strategy on. Brand-new publishers, practically no prior experience in the business...
« Last Edit: September 12, 2011, 09:28:10 PM by AnneLyle »
Elizabethan fantasy trilogy The Alchemist of SoulsThe Merchant of Dreams and The Prince of Lies out now from Angry Robot Books!

Offline jdiddyesquire

English to English Translations
« Reply #2 on: September 12, 2011, 09:49:13 PM »

I havemy first fantasy novel coming out in November, "The Banned Underground" and the publisher is busy translating all the non dialogue prose into 'american' to avoid potential bad reviews.....


This statement confuses me as an American.  We're not stupid.  Well, not that stupid. ;)
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Offline AnneLyle

English to English Translations
« Reply #3 on: September 12, 2011, 09:57:26 PM »
If it means they are changing the spelling to US English and changing some of the vocabulary, this is not uncommon - in children's fiction, when published in the US. Given that the book is set in England, and being published here, it makes no sense and is going to annoy the heck out of British readers.

Will, I wish you all the best, truly, but I'm not convinced your publishers have a clue...
Elizabethan fantasy trilogy The Alchemist of SoulsThe Merchant of Dreams and The Prince of Lies out now from Angry Robot Books!

Offline Fellshot

English to English Translations
« Reply #4 on: September 12, 2011, 11:05:00 PM »
I havemy first fantasy novel coming out in November, "The Banned Underground" and the publisher is busy translating all the non dialogue prose into 'american' to avoid potential bad reviews.....


o_O I hope that's only for an American printing and primarily for minor spelling vagaries. There's no real call to go on a re-spelling and minor idiom hunt otherwise. If it's for a primarily UK printing though... then I think that someone has lost their mind, because it makes no sense to switch into one idiom and spelling set when the primary projected customer base is using another. 

Offline AnneLyle

English to English Translations
« Reply #5 on: September 12, 2011, 11:12:08 PM »
My novel is coming out in both US and UK paperbacks, with absolutely no change to the text as far as I know. It's just not worth the work required to produce two separate editions, particularly as the electronic version will be available worldwide. And there's no way I'd let them "Americanise" the UK edition.

Sorry, kind of derailed the thread - just a bit bemused by this whole "translation" thing...
« Last Edit: September 12, 2011, 11:28:07 PM by AnneLyle »
Elizabethan fantasy trilogy The Alchemist of SoulsThe Merchant of Dreams and The Prince of Lies out now from Angry Robot Books!

Offline Minesril

English to English Translations
« Reply #6 on: September 13, 2011, 07:26:26 AM »
I find it astonishing that the American market is patronised in this way - as though they simply can't figure things out for themselves.  It's like when foreign films are re-made in English because (apparently) they can't read subtitles.  Regarding books, surely part of the fun of reading about a different culture is working out what things mean!

If, aged ten years old, I was able to work out what Judy Blume was saying (funny how US books aren't 'British-ised', not even children's books) I'm certain that adult Americans can work out Neil Gaiman, for example.

English to English Translations
« Reply #7 on: September 13, 2011, 07:53:06 AM »
I havemy first fantasy novel coming out in November, "The Banned Underground" and the publisher is busy translating all the non dialogue prose into 'american' to avoid potential bad reviews.....


o_O I hope that's only for an American printing and primarily for minor spelling vagaries. There's no real call to go on a re-spelling and minor idiom hunt otherwise. If it's for a primarily UK printing though... then I think that someone has lost their mind, because it makes no sense to switch into one idiom and spelling set when the primary projected customer base is using another. 
Changes are mainly to spelling, and some idiom it is considered may throw a US reader - for example, usung line rather than queue.  The worry is that a poor amazon review could hurt online US sales:  There are 65 million brits, 700 million US/canada/Australia etc... which is the market to target?  The issue is commercial, not taste, and I suggested it, not the publisher...based on research following online reviews.

Offline AnneLyle

English to English Translations
« Reply #8 on: September 13, 2011, 09:43:05 AM »
Is your book YA, Will? I notice a mention of teenagers in the blurb. I think your market is going to be very different to mine - anyone coming into a work of historical fantasy is going to find so much more in there that's unfamiliar, that a few Britishisms (is that even a word?) are hardly going to be noticeable!

Is there going to be an ebook edition, or a US printing? I can't see a hardback print run from the UK selling well in the US, to be honest, regardless of the language used.
« Last Edit: September 13, 2011, 10:02:23 AM by AnneLyle »
Elizabethan fantasy trilogy The Alchemist of SoulsThe Merchant of Dreams and The Prince of Lies out now from Angry Robot Books!

Offline Fellshot

English to English Translations
« Reply #9 on: September 13, 2011, 04:48:26 PM »
Well, if you are doing a small print run I would have gone with the British idioms since it sounds like both you and your publisher are in the UK and most of your potential publicity events would likely be held there and not the US. Also, my recollection is that the Australia/ New Zealand/ South Africa areas all use idiomatic syntax closer to UK English than American English. I never had a problem with the minor language vagaries and I think it's a silly thing to mention in a review when there are so many better things on a novel to potentially shred like an angry gerbil.

I suppose we should be thankful that no one feels the need to translate books into really specific regional dialects, like "Deep Southern US."  :P

Back to something closer to the topic, I don't think one negative review is going to hurt anything as long as there are other opinions to sample from on the Amazon page (or wherever). I don't censor my opinion, but I do hold off on posting it on Amazon until there are other (potentially positive) opinions up if I ended up panning a book. One bad reaction to one negative review on the other hand may very well result in a dive in sales and has certainly convinced me to not give certain authors a go... moreso than the original negative review in the first place.

Incidentally, what research were you looking at? Or was this more antcedotal?

Offline Autumn2May

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Re: English to English Translations
« Reply #10 on: September 13, 2011, 05:07:01 PM »
Hi!  Just wanted to let you all know I split this topic and moved it to the Writer's Corner.  In case you hadn't figured that out yet. ;)  I thought perhaps some of the other authors onsite might like to chime in on their experiences with English to English translations.

Sorry to interrupt.  Carry on! :)

Offline Douglas Hulick

Re: English to English Translations
« Reply #11 on: September 13, 2011, 05:55:12 PM »
Among Thieves didn't have any changes in spelling, construction, or usage when it crossed from the U.S. to the U.K. AFAIK. And of all the various blog reviews or rankings I've seen, no one has mentioned any of these as being an issue (mind, some folks had other issues with the book, of course...nature of art and all that. ;) )

Unless things are very local/slang-y/idiomatic, I'm not sure why this kind of conversion would be a concern. Ultimately, it's between your and your publisher (and, if you have one, your agent, who should be advised of this if he/she doesn't already know about it) to sort out; I know I'd ask what evidence-based reasoning they have for undertaking the extra work.

Regardless, good luck and success!

Offline Francis Knight

Re: English to English Translations
« Reply #12 on: September 13, 2011, 06:05:34 PM »
Spelling is often a non-issue - one of my publishers leaves it as Brit, the other's house style says change to US. But then they are both US pubs.

Slang I think is the thing - (the convos I've had with my editor about a certain phrase lol,). The other day I mentioned saveloys on twitter and had some US peoples quite confused! Note: Saveloys are not posh, no matter how close the word is to Savoy.

With slang/idiom it's a fine line. And anyway, even in the UK, slang can vary quite wildly between regions. Ofc, if you can make it work in context...
My tongue has been in my cheek for so long, I've eroded a new mouth.


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Offline AnneLyle

Re: English to English Translations
« Reply #13 on: September 13, 2011, 09:04:08 PM »
I've heard it said that there's no such thing as a bad review if you're a new author - any publicity is good publicity. A bad review tends to be more damaging to an established author, since it implies a downturn in quality.

Honestly, if the worst thing that someone says about my book is that they couldn't understand the British idioms, I'd be laughing. I'm sure they're far more likely to rant about the (potential) historical inaccuracies, the presence of *gasp* gay characters or whatever else pushes their buttons!

Also, I'm always highly suspicious if I see a book on Amazon with nothing but gushing 5-star reviews. it suggests that the only people reading the book are the author's family and friends. Give me a smattering of 3- and 4-star reviews - and, yes, the odd crazy rant of a 1-star review - please?
Elizabethan fantasy trilogy The Alchemist of SoulsThe Merchant of Dreams and The Prince of Lies out now from Angry Robot Books!

Re: English to English Translations
« Reply #14 on: September 13, 2011, 11:16:35 PM »
Is your book YA, Will? I notice a mention of teenagers in the blurb. I think your market is going to be very different to mine - anyone coming into a work of historical fantasy is going to find so much more in there that's unfamiliar, that a few Britishisms (is that even a word?) are hardly going to be noticeable!

Is there going to be an ebook edition, or a US printing? I can't see a hardback print run from the UK selling well in the US, to be honest, regardless of the language used.

As a comic fantasy, the target is quite wide, from teenage to adult.  The publisher is making the hardback available across the world, using LS for local printing in the US and Aus.  The ebook version will follow, and we are deliberately targetting a lot of US based review sites.  Being a Brit, I don't think the budget will run to a US tour, more's the pity.

Obviously a lot of the research was anecdotal, as it's hard to get firm facts - authors don't talk easily about slumping sales, but there is a lot of discussion on several authors websites.  One part of the problem is that many sites like this attract intelligent, lierate guys - amazon reviews often come from a different class of reader.