The Abbey Newsletter

Volume 7, Number 4
Sep 1983


Too Many Translations

Suddenly, in the last year or two, a number of translations have appeared of certain popular articles from the German bookbinding literature. Four of them are by Karl Jaeckel and appeared in Bibliotheksforum Bayern in the late 1970s. They cover old techniques of sewing, tanning, working endbands and (reportedly) making wooden hoards. One is by Wilhelm Ziegler (now deceased), and appeared in Allgemeiner Anzeiger fuer Buchbindereien in 1970; it covers techniques for dyeing leather for hook restoration. It is believed that four of the five articles have been translated into English at least twice, and one of the four has been translated at least four times, independently, by four different people. Two of the translations were done for this Newsletter, and one of the two (Ziegler) is nearly ready to publish. Most of the translations appear to have been done not by the conservators but by friends and acquaintances of the conservators.

What shall we do with this welcome but redundant literature, besides continuing to pass photocopies of it from hand to hand as we have been doing? Probably most readers would like it to be made more readily available, which means publishing it. What is the position of international law on translations published in another country? Whatever the law, it would be nice if authors and original publishers at least had a chance to correct and approve the translations before they are published, and perhaps to send along the original illustrations. (Both publishers have been contacted. The first readily gave permission and the second has not had time to reply yet.)

Gisela Noack's translation of the Jaeckel article on endbanding has been announced as scheduled for the next New Bookbinder.

One thing is clear: there has to be some way of coordinating these translations, some place to write and ask whether anyone else is known to be working on the article for which one is contemplating a translation. There is a National Translation Center at the John Crerar Library in Chicago, which is set up to coordinate translation efforts, but they may emphasize monographs rather than articles. They have not had time yet to reply to a letter of inquiry. Another possibility is the Abbey Newsletter office, which already has a file of translators as a result of last October's reader survey, and which is already kneedeep in correspondence with foreign publishers and domestic translators and commissioners of translations. Other suggestions are welcome, as are any and all communications from people who have done translations of other articles.

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