When I read books, I choose to read the book in the original language if it is a language I know. For instance, I will read any book that is originally written in English or Chinese in that language since I know the language well enough. Even though my French ability is not as good as my abilities in English or Chinese, I would prefer to read the original French version. If the book is written in any other language, I would have to read it in translation. But which language should I choose?
The only languages I would consider are English and Chinese. Only 3% of books published in the U.S. are works in translation, which might mean a limited selection of books translated to American English. I find all sorts of translated works on Taiwanese bookstore websites. Also it looks like the books have a faster translation rate than compared to the translated books I’ve found on American bookstore websites. So, if there’s a specific book that can only be found in one language, I’ll have to stick to that language.
Besides availability, there is also the question of accuracy. The reason that I read books in the original language when I can is because some nuances and meanings can be lost in translation. Even the most accurate translation can miss certain things. But now I wonder, is it possible that translating into a particular language is more accurate than translating into another language?
Since English shares roots with German and Latin, I assume that any languages with those roots (ie German, Spanish, Italian) may be more accurately translated into English than Chinese. Chinese, on the other hand, is in its own language family, so there’s probably not a related language for better translation. Culturally, Chinese shares similarities with Japanese and Korean, which may or may not lead to easier translation. So should I try to read Japanese books translated in Chinese rather than English?
I don’t have answers for any of the questions I’ve posed so far. In the end, it might just depend on the availability of the translation and which book is the easiest for me to obtain.