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A Translator’s Rights

September 26, 2008 1 Comment »

One of the things that we as translators tend to be concerned with is the rights of our published work, especially when our name appears alongside it.

For a translation of scientific research material published in a technical journal, the translator is usually thanked for his or her services in the Acknowledgements section. For a book put out by a publishing house, the translator has the same rights as the author, as he or she has created an original piece. Among these rights is having your name on the work.

In Section II of their Charter (http://www.fit-ift.org/en/charter.php#rights), The International Federation of Translators establishes the Rights of the Translator, intended to be used as guide on the principles to be upheld in the profession. The first article states that “Every translator shall enjoy all the rights with respect to the translation he/she has made, which the country where he/she exercises his/her activities grants to other intellectual workers.” (This is an important detail– it depends on each respective country’s laws.) But this institution, among others, recognizes the translator’s right to authorship, copyright, as well as the same rights held by the original author in regards to a moral right to recognition for his or her work, legal rights against the distortion or modification of the translation, and the power to authorize any use of it (publication, transmission, adaptation, etc.).

Most countries use the International Standard Book Number (ISBN code): a unique commercial identifier assigned by the national ISBN agency. It is not obligatory for publishers to assign an ISBN to each book, nor do they have to give any sort of identifier, but– luckily for us– most bookstores only deal with merchandise that does have this number. The ISBN’s purpose is to establish and identify a publishing house’s title and to make it exclusive to that particular edition, author, and translator.

The author and the reader both have the right to expect and demand a quality translation. Protecting the rights of the translator is a way to protect the rights of the reader and the author.

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One Response to “A Translator’s Rights”

  • Commented on August 5, 2011 at 5:25 am

    that’s for the positive feedback. It’s nothing groundbreaking, but at least it got the point across.