The Biggest Update to the Translation Databases Ever (And Some More Women in Translation Data)

OK, I’m supposed to be packing for my summer vacation right now, so this is going to be a lot shorter than it otherwise would be. But! I just updated the Translation Databases! Not just the spreadsheets for 2016 and 2017, but every spreadsheet I’ve ever run. There’s up to date info on 2008-2018 AND new spreadsheet with the complete listing of every work of fiction and poetry that I have logged into the database.1

I had to change the format a bit on this page, so nothing is as pretty as it could be, but have fun downloading all of this and pouring over the data. And letting me know what’s missing.

While I updated everything, I created a series of charts tracking all sorts of data about the most popular languages, countries, publishers, etc., etc. I would post some of that here, but I’m actually going to save it for a series of articles that will likely appear elsewhere and will include a lot more analysis.

But, since it’s Women in Translation Month, and since I posted some info about this already, I thought I’d share two charts.

First up is a chart with the percentage of books in translation written by men, women, or both (“both” indicating mixed gender writing teams and/or anthologies) over the period of 2008-2018. And yes, this is for the writer in the original language. The author who created the primary work.

Never really gets that close, unfortunately. In 2016 there’s a 30.01% difference between books originally written by men (63.82%) and those written by women (33.81%), but of the ten years tracked, there’s a 40%+ gap between these percentages for five of them. (The worst is 2008 in which 74.11% of the translations published were originally written by men and only 23.43% were originally written by women.)

In terms of raw numbers—and including all the updates sent in after my last post—there were 1,417 books written by women over this ten year period versus 3,351 by men. In terms of overall percentages, 28.97% were by women, 68.50% by men. This could be much closer to equal.

Then there’s the question of translators. In this case, women fare much much better.

See how those two lines converge in 2017? That’s because, as of this moment, women have translated 248 of the books published this year, and men have translated 249. So close! And a nice little bit of news for Women in Translation Month. Yes, there are still more men from around the world having their works translated into English, but more and more translation jobs are going to women.

There’s a lot more to say, but it’s late on Tuesday and I still need to pack . . . See you in a week or so!

1 Poetry. Fiction. First time ever published in translation. No reprints. No new editions. Available in America. 2008 onwards. Cool? Cool.

3 responses to “The Biggest Update to the Translation Databases Ever (And Some More Women in Translation Data)”

  1. […] are. Indeed, the blogger Meytal Radzinski as biblibio asked exactly that question in response to a report by University of Rochester which stated that in 2016 only 33.8 % of works that are translated into English were written by […]

  2. Charl says:

    Nice little bit of news for Women in Translation Month, glad to see there is an major improvement. Hope they will continue

  3. Dorothy says:

    This is wonderful data. I am so grateful for it. It pisses me off, however. What this is saying to me is that women are equal opportunity translators, but men translate men and get their work published in greater numbers. Therefore, there is literally a disincentive for me, as a woman, to translate other women because the data demonstrate that I am less likely to be rewarded for my work. So the question remains: why do publishers find the choices and translation of work of male translators and their male authors to be so much more convincing?

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