Thursday, March 5, 2009

Global Translation Statistics

Chad Post at Three Percent analyzes a recent study by Ruediger Wischenbart (consultant to the global publishing market) on global translation statistics. A couple interesting paragraphs from Chad's analysis:

First of all, there’s no real surprise in terms of which languages are most often translated—looking at the global market, books originally written in English represent approx. 60% of all translations around the world. This number has increased dramatically over the past quarter century, rising from just over 50% of all translations in 1979 to almost 64% in 1999. When you look at the graph in the report, it’s almost shocking to see the English line rise and rise while all the other languages remain muddled at the bottom of the chart, fluctuating slightly, but not nearly as dramatically as English . . .

It’s also not that surprising, but the second and third most translated languages are French and German, respectively. Put together, these three top languages represent around 80% of all the translations published globally. The next five most translated languages are (in descending order): Italian, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, Dutch. And taken as a whole, the top 8 languages account for 90% of all translations. (It’s like a wealth pyramid!)
For those of you interested in more detail, check out a 44-page draft of the Diversity Report (beware, it's a massive PDF file).

1 comment:

An Anonymous Child said...

I am interested in reading more, but not to the point of reading a massive PDF file...

Anyways, this is really interesting. I was thinking the other day about the "translation award" you linked to and how often if a book isn't translated into English, it won't be translated into anything else and won't spread beyond its native realm (if at all...). There are obviously many exceptions (I think I'm making up statistics), but still... Interesting food for thought.