The languages from which I translate are French, German, and Spanish, although I am able to read one or two others with reasonable fluency. During my years working for electrical and mechanical engineering companies (and subsequently) I translated large numbers of business documents, specifications, contracts, confidential scientific reports, etc. My book and article translation work really began with a personal translation of the original edition of Cuno Hoffmeister's Variable Stars, a classic of variable-star astronomy. Although this was never published, it did eventually lead to my undertaking the translation of the later, revised edition (which is listed below).
Translation is not, as some mistakenly think 'Easy, because all you have to do is follow someone else's ideas'. It may involve considerable effort to convey the subtleties of the original and, at times, a great deal of research. The best work undoubtedly results when you have full co-operation from the author. A few (thankfully rare) authors have a strange view of translation, insisting that paragraph and sentence breaks, numbers of adjectives or adverbs, tenses of verbs, etc., must be identical to the original. Without firm editorial intervention, such translations are the least successful, and the most frustrating for the translator.
It may also be said that some publishers have strange ideas about translations, most notably that they may be undertaken and completed in double-quick time, that research is never required (see above), and that collaboration between author and translator is not really essential. At least one publisher thought that assigning a German-born editor to the project would be of great assistance. Perhaps it might have been if the person concerned had not promptly altered the translation back to a Germanic style of sentence construction, and rigorously removed all the changes and corrections that had been fully - and in some cases, exhaustively - discussed between the author and myself. The manuscript was eventually restored to its original form, but only after the expenditure of considerable time and energy, and some heated discussion.
Naturally, there are good and bad publishers, and some with whom it has been (and remains) a pleasure to work are Cambridge University Press, Oxford University Press, Springer-Verlag (both the Heidleberg and New York offices), and John Wiley & Sons (Chichester).
It has been a great pleasure to work with some of these authors, and several have become personal friends, with whom I have remained in contact over the years and who have, indeed, helped me on occasion with other translations. I particularly enjoyed working with Rudolf Kippenhahn, whose sense of humour matches mine. On a more specific level, completion of the mammoth Observer's Guide to Astronomy by Pierre Martinez, for CUP, was perhaps the largest task, and The Young Sun, for Springer, possibly the greatest (technical) achievement, because of the extensive amount of text relating to chemistry, molecular biology and similar fields.
1,000 Common Delusions: and the real facts behind them,
Pöppelmann, Christa, Firefly Books, Richmond Hill, Ontario
2006, ISBN: 978-1-55407-174-6
The Astronomer Jules Janssen, Launay,
Springer, New York, 2011
ISBN 978-1-4614-0696-9; pp.220
Publisher’s details here
Astronomy on the Personal Computer, Montenbruck,
Pfleger, T., Springer-Verlag, Heidelberg, 1990;
2nd revised edn, 1994;
3rd, completely revised edition with CD-ROM, 2000
Astrophysics: The Solar System, Encrenaz, T.
& Bibring, J.-P.,
Springer-Verlag, Heidelberg, 1989;
2nd revised edition, 1995
3rd, completely revised (and fully retranslated) edition 2004
Bound to the Sun, Kippenhahn, R.,
W.H. Freeman, New York, 1990
Discovering the Secrets of the Sun, Kippenhahn,
Wiley, Chichester, 1994
Extraterrestrial Intelligence, Heidmann, J.,
Cambridge University Press, 1995
The Future of the Past, Eberhard Zangger,
Weidenfeld & Nicholson, 2001 (hbk); 2002 (pbk)
Glorious Eclipses, Serge Brunier &
Cambridge University Press, 2000 [publisher's details]
Light from the Depths of Time, Kippenhahn, R.,
Springer-Verlag, Heidelberg, 1986
Majestic Universe: Views from here to infinity,
Cambridge University Press, 1999 [publisher's details]
The New Atlas of the Stars, Mellinger, A. &
Hoffmann, S., Toronto, Firefly, 2005
Ollivier,M. Encrenaz, T., Roques, F.,
Selsis, F. & Casoli, F., Springer, Heidelberg, 2009
The Secret Melody, Thuan, T.X.,
Oxford University Press, New York, 1995
Solar System Voyage, Serge Brunier,
Cambridge University Press, 2002 [publisher's details]
Variable Stars, Hoffmeister/Richter/Wenzel,
Springer-Verlag, Heidelberg, 1985
The Young Sun, Early Earth and the Origins of Life,
Gargaud, M., Martin, H., López-García, P., Montmerle, T., & Pascal, R.,
Springer Verlag, Heidleberg, 2013
ISBN: 978-3-642-22551-2, pp.xxii + 299
Astrophotography with Schmidt Telescopes, Marx
Cambridge University Press, 1991
The Collected Works of Karl Schwarzschild, ed.
3 vols, Springer-Verlag, Heidelberg, 1991
Stargazers: The Contribution of Amateurs to Astronomy,
(Proceedings of I.A.U. Colloquium 98 - Paris, June 1987)
Springer Verlag, Heidelberg, 1988
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