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As publishing houses don’t want to lose their readership, some of them choose to retranslate literary material that might not sell well anymore.

Some word categories such as slang grow old very fast, so literary material containing slang will need to be updated often in order to make sense to present-day audiences. One example of this is Trainspotting. Written in 1993, it is retranslated every couple of years in many languages.

If you think ‘retranslation’ sounds like a simple update of a previous translation, it’s actually much more complicated than that. A first translation might aim to stay faithful to the original text (foreignising the text by keeping names of culinary dishes from the original language, for example), but others who choose to retranslate the original material might choose to stray from it and keep as little from the original culture as possible (and, to continue with our example, will localise, or domesticate, the text by trading the name of the dish for one in the target culture).

Translations always require a keen understanding of both the original text and the target audience and decisions must be made on how foreign or domestic the target text should sound.

So do you have a text in need of updating? Drop us a line and we’d be happy to help you out!