Studies of Life

Learning by doing.

Translating a Novel into British English

12 October 2012 by Jim

Now that my first novel, initially written in French, is available for purchase on Amazon and Smashwords and some other places in both digital and print editions, the next logical step for me as a writer / translator / language student is to expand the reach of my text by translating it into two languages other than French that I feel comfortable enough with to translate a novel: British English and German. But let’s first stick with the British. It’s going to be enough of work either way.

87’000 words


The task: 87’000 words of text to be translated rather soon, if possible, so that I can move on and get on with my writing new stuff. It is, of course very interesting to see how this process unfolds. The text will certainly receive a different edge through the translation process, and since I am the author I am in the unique position of being able to tinker as I see fit with the original text to render its essence in the target language more efficiently. As a translator, you’re always afraid to switch things around or delete words because if you exaggerate this, your client may be unhappy. In this case, I’m the contractor and the client, so the discussion about the final result shouldn’t be too difficult since it’s only between me, myself and I, as Beyoncé would say.

The evolution of my translation speed during the process of translating my novel into British English.

63 hours of work

In order to track the projected finish date of the British translation, I use the Readmore app which I already advertised on this blog as a very efficient and informative way of tracking reading progress. I simply used the number 870 as the total page count of my text to be translated and will update the app as I go along. The app then estimates the total duration of the translation process, the projected finish date and the estimated number of translation sessions that I need to finish. After roughly 48 minutes of tracked translation, I can say that as of now, I have completed 3% of the translation, it will take about 60 hours to complete the translation, and at the current pace I can finish by November 20. Ideally, I would like to complete the translation within 30 days. We’ll see what will be possible. I certainly do have an advantage over the random translator in that I know the text and its mission intimately, and I have a personal interest in the story, which should make me more enthusiastic about the work. It does.

Tracking the progress

  • 28% – 17 hours 10 minutes (Oct 28)
  • 31% – 18 hours 30 minutes (Oct 29, + 3 %, + 1 hour 20 minutes)

British English Grammar and Punctuation

Since I have to look up some specific rules on how to correctly do the typesetting of the novel, I’ll list facts I didn’t know about yet here for easy reference.

He said, ‘My favorite poem is “Sunday morning” by Wallace Stevens.’
My favorite poem is ‘Sunday Morning’.

So quotation marks inside other quotation marks are double quotes for easy differentiation, and punctuation is put outside of the quotation marks, a choice which seems far more reasonable than the opposite, which is common in American English, according to Grammarist.

This “back to the basics” [back-to-the-basics] approach resonated with fans and critics alike …

Expressions or common phrases like the above example should be hyphenated, not put in quotation marks.

The plural of Mrs is the french ‘Mesdames’, that of Mr is ‘Messrs’, and none of these receive periods because the fine British only put periods after contractions if the last letter of the contraction is not the last letter of the original word, which is again very logical and the way I thought it should be everywhere. In that logic, a period is used to indicate the missing of letters at the end.

The french “marquise” is ‘marchioness’ in English.

I’ll keep updating this post with stats and tips.

Leave a comment | Categories: Writing | Tags: , , , , ,

Leave a Reply