I’m all booked up… Which Translation Theory books are worth it? My top 5

After what feels like a very long month (and it’s not even over yet!) I’m back with a post for translation studies students, both current and future.

I’ve just started back at uni, after a 6 week delay, and am in the thick of writing essay plans and seminar research. At the beginning of each course, the lecturer or course convenor will (hopefully!) give you a handbook for the whole course or module you’re studying. Seems helpful, right? Until, that is, you flick through the end few pages and skim the seemingly never-ending list of ‘suggested reading’ that no-one in a month of Sundays will ever complete. So how do you sort the bad from the good? Or the hopeless from the helpful? Read on for my top 5 translation studies theory books that will get you through exam season…

After I changed from Spanish and German to Translation, my tutor recommended some books to help me catch up to the rest of the class. The first that I bought was ‘Introducing Translation Studies’ by Jeremy Munday. This book has literally been my go to all through my degree and the start of my masters. It’s a comprehensive book on various aspects of translation theory with case studies at the end of each chapter to help you see how the theory can be applied in translation. Munday’s case study on Harry Potter using Gideon Toury’s Descriptive Translation Studies theory inspired my dissertation project. You can’t ask for more than that! I have the older 2008 copy, but I think there’s a new 2016 edition that is well worth a look/purchase!

Another core book for seminars in both my degree and MA has been ‘The Translation Studies Reader’ by Lawrence Venuti – in his own right Venuti is an acclaimed translation studies scholar and theorist (Skopos Theory). Here, Venuti has collated a series of essays from across the ages and from many different scholars with wildly varying attitudes and ideas to translation theory. In translation exams and essays, it’s important to back up points using named theories and theorists – this book is a must have, one-stop-shop for theory. From Schleiermacher to Lefevere there’s something for everyone, and is my second VIP (very important purchase!)

This next book is actually a recent purchase, but is invaluable for a quick, but thorough, look into a wide variety of translation theory, text types, genres and terminology. It also covers the history of translation in different cultures and countries. Recently I found a small paragraph that will be very helpful for my essay on the influence of culture on translation. You name it, they’ve thought of it – my third choice is the ‘Routledge Encyclopaedia of Translation Studies’  by Mona Baker and Gabriela Saldanha.

‘In Other Words: A Coursebook on Translation’ is my fourth book recommendation. Whilst the book focuses mostly on different forms of equivalence and their usage, it does also offer practical advice on the strategies to translate idioms, for example, whilst giving examples in a wide variety of languages. I intend to use this book to help me write my translation commentaries in the second semester, for my module on Specialised Translation.

‘Translation: An advanced resource book’ by Jeremy Munday and Basil Hatim, is like a part two to Munday’s book that I mentioned above. Again it offers an even more in depth look into translation theory, with exercises to boot! Good for more in depth preliminary reading and a good reference book.

BONUS BOOK! Although I promised you my top 5, I’m giving you a bonus book too! A few years I go I bought ‘Thinking German Translation’ from Amazon. what’s particularly good about this book, is that it comes in a variety of language pair options (mainly between English and another language). The German version looks at different text types and translation issues that you might find, whilst giving practical solutions on how to deal with them. each chapter has well illustrated and explained examples, as well as translation exercises for you to try and a good glossary of key translation terms. Well worth a look!


Are there any books that I’ve missed that you’d recommend?  Which one of my top 5 would make it on your own list? Leave me a comment below, or tweet me at @amsjcorr.




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