Book Translation Story

/ 303 words / literature me

I recently read a book called Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport. It’s a really interesting book about a philosophy going by the same name, and I personally can recommend everyone who is a social media addict to read it. After finishing this book in English (the original print) on my Kindle, I wanted to get a physical copy that I could show my friends or even lend it to them. So I went to one of my local bookshops and luckily they had a couple of units in stock.

Now what the real problem is, that I didn’t even think about before is that the book is translated from English into Czech, my native language. I only thought about this when I got it home, but let’s not skip ahead and continue with the story.

So I bought a paperback print of this book for around 13€ (303 CZK), went home and the curious side of me wanted to re-read some of the good parts in my native tongue. I think got through about 8 pages (keep in mind that this book is A5 sized) and I had enough.

The. translation. was. terrible. They used words that were nowhere even close to the original idea. Sentences that made sometimes absolutely no sense, that even re-reading it multiple times wasn’t enough to actually understand it and on top of that the formatting was really, but really bad (no line spacing & font). I had to focus very to not skip lines while reading.

I think this was the last1 time I ever bought a printed copy of a English to Czech translated book. Have you ever had similar experience like this?

  1. Well… that is until AI masters the human speech and we are able to get “naturally” sounding books in whatever language we want. ↩︎