The reluctance of publishers in the English-speaking world to translate works from other languages truly boggles the mind. At a point in the world’s history in which we are more connected than ever before, America and the rest of the Anglophone world remain remarkably isolated from the literary contributions of other languages and cultures. The statistics are rather eye-opening: Just two to three percent of books published every year in the U.S. and Britain are translations, in comparison to close to 35 percent in Western Europe and Latin America.
Ignoring a bulk of the world’s literature represents a problem on several fronts. Aside from the fact that English speakers lose out on the obvious advantages gained by an understanding of different worldviews and perspectives found in foreign literature, as it turns out, a refusal on the part of publishers to translate books from other languages into English also does a disservice to non-English speakers the world over. “English often serves as the linguistic bridge for the translation of a book into a number of Asian and African languages.” Lastly, a paucity of translated works means that the exchange of information and ideas that is cherished by free, democratic societies ultimately suffers.
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