Spanish mis-translation of Paolo Giordano The solitude of prime numbers

But where does the buck stop?

In a review of Juan Manuel Salmerón Arjona’s apparently shambolic misrepresentation of Paolo Giordano‘s bestseller, RMF at Fum i estalzí muses on the solitude of translators.

Salmerón may well regard himself as unfortunate. Translators of literary canaries in the dark coal mines of our paranoia and such are generally left unnamed in order to avoid diluting the authorial brand. And it is reasonably common for translators to desert both the letter and the spirit of the original, whether because this is what their masters require (this was sometimes the case in early Bible translations), or because they are out of their depth or out of budget (Spanish rates are even more miserable than most).

However I wonder whether the resources consumed by an academic translation analysis industry addicted to French semiotic theology and silly haircuts might not have been better devoted to simple quality audits of the literary translation leviathan which has arisen from the extraordinary increase in human wealth and global mobility.

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  1. Here’s an example of how much Spanish translation work pays:


    Ibidem Group, an international communication and translation agency, is looking to add a native English translator to their team in Barcelona, Spain.

    Applicants must have a high level of Spanish as well as excellent written communication skills. Previous experience, knowledge of other languages, some knowledge of legal translations and computer skills (CAT, html, document layout, etc.) will also be considered.

    Applicants are expected to be proactive, with a desire to develop their skills in a young, growing and dynamic translation agency.

    Immediate start. Office located in the centre of Barcelona.
    Flexible conditions. Half-time position (starting salary: 300€/month)
    Initial contract: internship
    Please respond with a CV and photo. Selection process will involve a translation test.

  2. What’s wrong with 300 a month for an experienced translator? As long as you sleep in the streets and don’t eat very much you could just about live off that!

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