Translation and Literature

Literary translation is not one of our fields, but, being April the month when World Book Day is celebrated and in the year of the 400th anniversary of Cervantes and Shakespeare deaths (even if they did not exactly die on the same day); we had no excuse not to talk about it.

UNESCO has been compiling data about languages and books on its Index Translationum. Here you can get statistics about the most translated writers, source and target languages, countries or publishers that publish translated books in a given country of your choice.

Today we want to share with you some interesting data from this Index.

Top 10 most translated writers:

  1. Christie Agatha
  2. Verne Jules
  3. Shakespeare William
  4. Blyton Enid
  5. Cartland Barbara
  6. Steel Danielle
  7. Lenin Vladimir Il’ič
  8. Andersen Hans Christian
  9. King Stephen
  10. Grimm Jacob

Surprised for not finding Cervantes among the top 10? Guess what; he is not even on the top 50. It is not strange, as this list evolves with society and modern writers, who have probably published more books, get better rankings. This is the case of bestsellers Danielle Steel and Stephen King. The most famous (and most translated) book by Cervantes is Don Quixote, so probably this is the only book that has been considered for the ranking. Why Shakespeare does appear in the top 10? Probably because he had more books than the Spanish writer and by the second half of the 17th century the Spanish empire was declining, which fostered the evolution of the English empire. Therefore, English culture was more widely spread by then.

Top 10 source languages:

  1. English
  2. French
  3. German
  4. Russian
  5. Italian
  6. Spanish
  7. Swedish
  8. Japanese
  9. Danish
  10. Latin

As you can see, English is first in the ranking. Most of the most translated authors were English speakers, so the relationship between writers and languages is evident.

Top 10 target languages:

  1. German
  2. French
  3. Spanish
  4. English
  5. Japanese
  6. Dutch
  7. Russian
  8. Portuguese
  9. Poland
  10. Sweden

Surprised to find Polish and Swedish on this ranking? As experts in translation from and into Nordic languages, we have a hypothesis: the Nobel Prize in Literature. We think that the winner will have its book translated into Swedish so readers in the country awarding the price will have access to such work.

Top 10 Spanish writers:

  1. García Márquez Gabriel
  2. Allende Isabel
  3. Vargas Llosa Mario
  4. Cervantes Saavedra Miguel de
  5. Borges Jorge Luis
  6. Parramón Vilasaló José María
  7. García Lorca Federico
  8. Neruda Pablo
  9. Cortázar Julio
  10. Vázquez Montalbán Manuel


Hurrah! We can finally find Cervantes in a ranking, but not in the first position. Not having Spain’s most universal writer in the first positions is quite reasonable. 400 years ago there were many fewer readers (not to mention translators). Therefore, if we compare him with authors from the 20th century, when reading and translation are more frequent activities, any writer of previous centuries, no matter how important he/she is, will always have a low ranking. Also, remember that UNESCO has been compiling data “only” since 1979, so all previous translations before that year are not included; probably many translations from Cervantes works were done before that year.

As a company also offering translation from and into Spanish and with one office in Spain, we wanted to check the top 10 countries with translation from Spanish:

  1. Spain
  2. France
  3. Germany
  4. United States
  5. Brazil
  6. Portugal
  7. Italy
  8. United Kingdom
  9. Poland
  10. The Netherlands

Lastly, as English is the most translated language, we wanted to know which the top 10 countries with most translated English books are:

  1. Germany
  2. Spain
  3. France
  4. Japan
  5. The Netherlands
  6. Sweden
  7. Poland
  8. Denmark
  9. China
  10. Russian Federation

What can we learn from all these data? Literature and translation help us to discover and unify countries, cultures, traditions and to leave thousands of adventures. No matter if we are in the literary translation field or not, at Jensen Localization we will always support the combination of both worlds. Long life translation!

Translation and Business between Danish and Spanish companies

The Costa del Sol is an appealing place for Scandinavian people and businesses, as we already explained in our article Translation and Business Opportunities between Norway and Spain.

Today we are exploring the synergies between Denmark and Spain, and in more detail, the Malaga region, as it is where our Spanish branch is located.

We recently attended a meeting with the Danish ambassador of Spain and Andorra, John Nielsen, held at the Malaga Chamber of Commerce. Mr Nielsen explained about the close and long business relationships between Denmark and Spain.

Spanish flagAs you can imagine, Madrid and Barcelona are the most popular cities with Danish companies, as these are the places where they have traditionally opened their businesses. However, there is an increasing interest in the Costa del Sol. As a matter of fact, the Malaga region is the place, after Sweden, with more Danish residents, accounting for several thousands. Taking into account that Denmark is a small country with around 5.7M inhabitants (less than Andalusia), this is a very interesting data.

The Costa del Sol is also the favourite tourist destination for Danish people.

The potential of Malaga as a smart city is also interesting for many Danish companies, the ambassador explained at the event.

One of the most popular Danish brands in Malaga is BestSeller, the fashion group, operating in Torremolinos since 1997. Tiger, the Danish chain of stores, is successfully expanding in Malaga and neighbour cities.

But there are other smaller companies, owned by Danish residents that also contribute to the regions’ economy. And this is where many Spanish companies can play an important role.

Danish flagThese companies represent a wide range of industries: law firms, real estate companies, insurance brokers or dental clinics, to name a few. These companies are mainly targeted towards Danish residents, but they will need suppliers, and they will of course need more clients (companies always need more clients, don’t they?).

Not everybody is able to learn a new language well enough to make business. And communication is the key to success, no matter what your business is about. By providing these companies with the information they need about your products and services, they will feel much more comfortable making business with you.

At Jensen Localization we are experts in the Spanish, Dutch and Nordic languages. We can help you to bridge the gap between you and your potential Danish clients by translating your website and marketing collaterals, such as brochures or company presentations into Danish or any other language you may need.

For Danish residents, we can provide sworn translation services needed to open a business in Spain or having a permanent residence in this country. If you are a Danish company and would like to make business with Spanish clients and suppliers, do not hesitate to contact us for translation into Spanish.

Brands, language and culture

You have probably read a lot about blunders from big brands entering new markets, such as Coca-Cola in China or Ikea’s catalogue in Thailand.

This is a common error among companies due to lack of knowledge of the language and culture of their target markets. Therefore, the solution is simple: hire native translators. Not only will they advise you on the language but, as potential users of your products or services, will be able to let you know how they feel when they read that brand name.

However, not only does this happen in translation, but also in the company’s native language. Cultural connotation, spelling mistakes that change the meaning of a word or wordplays that have a different meaning to the creator and the reader can have an effect over your brand.

At Jensen Localization we asked our staff to pick up some examples about curious brand names, either because they have a different connotation in another language or because they can cause confusion. We also asked them to send us examples of good name choices. See below some of their findings:

In the Italian city of Pordenone, our colleague Javier used to live just above this bakery. The brand, very popular in Italy, would be very popular in Spain, but probably for other reasons, and not for the quality of their baguettes. Or maybe yes? Follador in Spanish means, to say it politely, a man being very sexually active :).


In Turkey, Helia came across this brand name in a restaurant. Aciktim means ‘I am hungry’ in Turkish, so it is indeed a very creative brand name that we think is worth mentioning.


In Spain, I myself found a funny brand name. Supercaro literally means ‘super expensive’. Isn’t it paradoxical that a low cost super market has a name meaning that it is super expensive? The most reasonable explanation for this name is that the owner of the supermarket is called Carolina (Caroline). Carol or Caro, as in this example, is a very commonly used abbreviation for this name in Spanish. Therefore, the intention of this brand name is to mean ‘Carol’s supermarket’, instead of ‘a very expensive supermarket’. This is a creative brand name full of meaning to the owner of this supermarket, but it may cause confusion among people not used to this name.

Language and culture go hand in hand in all fields, it doesn’t matter if we are talking about marketing or technical texts. Something that is completely neutral in our culture can have enormous effects in other languages and cultures. Sometimes these effects are funny and incidental, but in other cases they can affect your company branding and even offend your target market, leading to a complete failure on your international strategy.

At Jensen Localization we take into account these things very seriously, and we will always let you know if your source text can have any cultural connotation that needs to be addressed during translation. Do not hesitate to contact us for further information.


Summary of 2015

If you are reading this blog, Happy New Year! We hope you had a great holiday season and charged your batteries to make the most of 2016.

As every January, we like starting the year with a summary of our most interesting articles related to the language and translation industry. See our suggestions below and feel free to comment on them!

At Jensen Localization we often talk about the many industries where translation plays an important role. If you are located in Spain and are interested in Nordic countries or in the tourism industry, you may find interesting the articles Translation and Business Opportunities between Norway and Spain and  Translation in the tourism industry. The British and German markets. These articles will help you to understand better how translation can help you to improve your business in these industries and markets.

If you are interested in Machine Translation, we suggest you to read our 5 tips to ensure the success of machine translation and do not hesitate to ask us if you need further information. We will soon launch an improved version of our MT system, would you like to learn more about it? Contact us!

A very frequent confusion among clients requiring translation services are literal translations. Do you really know what a literal translation is? If you want to test your knowledge, read this article and let us know your opinion.

Finally, one of our most recent articles is not only useful for translators and Project Managers, but for any content creator, editor or just any person that wants to make sure a text is 100% correct before publishing. If you are a blogger, this post is a must read! Do not underestimate the power of checklists and read our article Checklists are still useful.

We hope you like our selection of articles, but you are of course welcome to read the rest of posts! And if you would like us to talk about any particular topic related to the translation industry, share it with us!

Checklists are still useful

We live in the era of technology, and it certainly helps us do our job more efficiently. But sometimes, simple things are the best tools, and this is why we want to talk to you about checklists. Yes, that list of items you proudly tick off to reaffirm that you have done all that you intended to do.

After editing a text, and before publishing it, it is useful to go through a checklist containing the following items. As you will note, some are specific for translated texts, but others are useful for monolingual content creation too:

Spell check

Sounds basic, but you cannot imagine how many texts we get to translate that contain spelling errors. Sometimes, a spelling error can change a word completely, and this will change the meaning of the sentence. Do not run the spellchecker automatically and pay attention to every term that is corrected, as sometimes wrong corrections may be inserted.

Bullet lists

They help to make a text more readable, but they have their own punctuation and style rules. Make sure to follow them, and if you are not sure about the rules, just take a simple one: whatever you do, do the same in all items of the bulleted list.

Queries and answers

Communication is the key to success. You may have asked questions to your client or to other departments; make sure you have implemented the replies accordingly before publishing the text.


Although in software like Word, headers and footers are created automatically when you add the first one, check them as well, as you may want to change them once the text is finished. In the case of translation, this is usually where the language code appears, so make sure you apply the correct language code.


As spelling mistakes, punctuation errors can change the meaning of a sentence, so make sure you place commas and other punctuation marks correctly.

Multiple spaces

It may seem a freak requirement, but a text full of double, triple or even longer spaces just looks bad, see below.

This is an example of how too   many white spaces   make the text look   awkward.   If you want to   avoid   it,       make sure you     turn hidden   text   on and     check the   white   spaces     between       words.

Text processors will add spaces if you choose a full justification of the text, but you have to differentiate between those automatically generated spaces and those inserted by you. How can you check that? For example, in Word, activate the hidden text (¶) and you will see a dot between each word. If you see more than one, you should remove them so that you only have one space between each word. Word will then justify the text so that it looks good.


We have already talked about translating numbers. Both for monolingual and multilingual texts, check any part of the text containing numbers, such as dates, hours, temperatures, etc. Localize them if needed and make sure (particularly for dates and hours) that you always use the same formatting.


Check that they appear where they should, and if they include text, make sure the text fits properly in the graphic. This is very important for localized graphics, as the text length may vary according to the language.

We hope this article helps you to understand the importance of checklists as a tool to improve the quality of your documents. Do you have any more items in your checklist that are worth commenting? Share them with us!