On translation across Europe: The Diversity Report 2008

The basic pattern is familiar: Most translations of books have English originals (ca. 60 percent on average) , while hardly any translations travel back into English (guesses are at 2 to 3 percent).

But what happens to smaller languages, e.g. from highly fragmented, yet culturally rich regions such as Central Europe? And how do medium sized languages, like French or German?

This is what the Diversity Report 2008 is all about, a very first approach to mapping the flows of translation all across Europe, which is now ready for download.

There are a lot of surprises in the 44 page report which is packed with over 30 diagrams full of details:

The strongest translating country is not Germany anymore, but France;

Translations between Central European countries are only half of what it was before 1989, disregarding all funding efforts;

Translations from German into many languages decrease, undermining Germany’s role as a gateway to many languages and cultures;

There are a few winners in Central Europe (and elsewhere) though, languages with an upward trend for translations, notably Swedish, Polish, or Czech.

Frankly, compiling the report and mapping cultural diversity was a hell of a lot of work, and my brain is still confused from all the numbers and charts we produced, but it was clearly worth the effort.

And I shall report details here, after our presentation on Friday at the “On Translation” conference at Buch Wien 08.

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