Co-publishing of transtaled works : 12 recommendations

  • fr
  • en
  • Multilingual mode
  • Simple mode

Some principles

1.      If it seems easy to raise the issue of translation in relationship with a key-notion (e.g. “citizenship”) or with a widely shared question (“History, Memory, History of Present Time”), the choice of relevant corpus on such a subject assumes that everyone agrees to re-examine his/her sources, to consider critically its archives and libraries.

2.      Conditions for this examination of what is produced in a society, what is translated in a society, what is relevant for a society, should be created, especially thanks to a work between publishers, translators, researchers, and, whenever relevant, journalists (whether specialists of a field of knowledge, of an era, or publicists).

3.      The support to co-publishing projects in the field of Human and Social sciences by the international funders must avoid any thematic prioritization. The funders often have a certain idea of what knowledge production and circulation should be, which, generally speaking, coincides, neither with the expertise of the publishers, translators, researchers, publicists, nor with the public interest - which diverges from one country to another, from one context to another. Going beyond the existing Western representations of what knowledge is or should be. As stressed by Franck Mermier in his conclusions of the Madrid workshop, the conditions for production of knowledge are far different in many Arab countries than in the EU countries. Social sciences research, based on investigations on the field, is far less recognized and authorized in the Southern and/or Eastern shore of the Mediterranean Region. Censorship may occur. The academic contexts as well as the public arena are different. Arab experts themselves denounced in the UNDP report for the Arab world in 2003 this limited nature of the editorial production in the humanities and social sciences in the Arab world. Overcoming the anonymous situation of Arab researchers and publicists is a challenge that requires greater mobilization in the humanities and social sciences across the region. It needs obviously also to overcome stereotypes about the Arab world and Turkey. Therefore, a co-publishing program needs to take into consideration not only the academic production, but other forms, such as documents, essays, biographies, etc.

4.      Who decides? This is an important question to be dealt with. A successful co-publishing project relies on shared interests of the publishing houses, of the authors and of the translators. The funders should have no voice in this process.

A shared ethics by the publishers

5.      Co-publishing means shared interest and priorities. Time and space are necessary to give to the publishers the opportunity to meet and discuss. The book fairs are not necessarily the adequate place to do so.

6.      Any co-publishing project should be based on a shared ethics, with the following principles :
a.      Due respect of the author’s rights and of the translator’s rights;
b.      Contracting with the translator and respecting the terms of the contract;
c.      No translation via a third language;
d.      Monitoring of the translation (“second reading”);
e.      Joint discussion on any kind of adaptation of the text proposed by the translator and/or the publisher.

How to choose?

7.      A co-publishing project needs to rely on a common evaluation of a text for various audiences.
a.      Lists of books defined prior to a joint discussion between the stakeholders (translators, publishers, university professors, researchers, journalists, etc.) are not relevant;
b.      A bibliography of existing translations related to a foreseen project should be done before taking any decision.
c.      Essays, or research, that are relevant in one country are not necessarily relevant in another country, though they may be considered as important books.
d.      Instead of publishing the complete work of an author, though important the author is, it is recommended to contextualize this work with the translation of texts/books commenting it, dialoguing with it, using its notions.
e.      Co-publishers and translators have to evaluate whether the conditions of reception for a co-publishing project are already existing or not. If not, they may postpone the project and or adapt it, especially adding to the co-publishing project an introduction to the theme/perspective, etc.

8.      A co-publishing project needs to rely on the most vivid resources available in one country/language, etc. Therefore, a specific attention should be paid to the journals and their role in the contemporary production and circulation of knowledge.

A shared methodology for translation

9.      It is important to adapt the source text to the translated text, for example with cuts or adding of notes; an introduction to the translation can be useful to facilitate an appropriation by the reader.

10.   As stated in the Mapping of translations in the Euromed region, literary translators are not trained in translating human and social sciences. Vice versa, the researchers are not trained in translation. Therefore, as experienced in the Madrid workshop, translators and researchers should be enabled to work together :
a.      In the frame of collective translation workshops;
b.      Using innovative tools for collective translation and shared monitoring of translation, such as the Intermed platform on line (

11.   Delving back into the sources quoted in the translated books is a professional duty that none of the translators should ignore. Translators should be offered the access to those sources, either via virtual networking with researchers, thanks to the Intermed platform, or thanks to mobility grants, which are part of the Mapping recommendations.

12.   Within a co-publishing project, the translators should agree to contribute to a shared glossary, especially in the case of co-publishing projects with two or three Arab-speaking co-publishing houses.