12 best quotes about translators and translation

Away from the spotlight, most translators choose the career out of interest and passion. These unsung heroes bring incredible value to businesses, industries, and societies. According to TAUS, the future remains bright for translators who provide high quality and use translation technologies to their advantage.

To inspire our growing translator community and show our appreciation for their dedication to their craft, we’ve selected some of the best quotes about translators and translation from renowned authors and translators worldwide:


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Anthony Burgess was an English writer and composer, who displayed his gift for languages with A Clockwork Orange, a dystopian novel adapted for film in 1971. The book features characters speaking an unusual language called Nadsat and it’s one of our recommended books for language lovers.


A key figure in Spanish-English literature, Jorge Luis Borges was an Argentine author, poet, essayist, and translator. His best-known books, Ficciones (Fictions) and El Aleph (The Aleph) are compilations of short stories. He was influenced by the work of Edgar Allan Poe and Franz Kafka.


Anna Rusconi has translated many books into Italian, such as La Fabbrica Dei Corpi (The Body Farm) by Patricia Cornwell, Sotto Il Segno Della Pecora (The Rat Series #3) by Haruki Murakami, and Le Conzolazioni Della Filosofia (The Consolations of Philosophy) by Alain de Botton.


A French-born American literary critic, essayist, philosopher, novelist, and educator, Professor George Steiner penned books about history, language, and literature, such as, After Babel: Aspects of Language and Translation and The Death of Tragedy.


Professor Bijay Kumar Das has published a number of books, including A Handbook of Translation Studies, Postmodern Indian English Literature, and The Poetry of Jayanta Mahapatra. He is also a contributor to The Encyclopaedia of World Literature in the 20th Century (New York).


One of the most influential philosophers in the world, Friedrich Nietzsche was a German classical scholar, cultural critic, philologist and a poet. His controversial works and provocative ideas made a profound influence on modern philosophy and modern intellectual history.


Ned Rorem is an American author and one of America’s most honored composers. A Pulitzer Prize winner in 1976 for his orchestral suite Air Music, he composed several operas and symphonies. He also published The Paris Diary of Ned Rorem and Facing the Night: A Diary.


The quote above is from his book, The Letters of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. A widely known and well-loved American poet, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote famous poems, “Paul Revere’s Ride” and “Evangeline, A Tale of Acadie. He was also the first American who translated Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy.


A professor of translation, Peter Newmark was a pioneer who took the lead in making translation an academic study in the twentieth century. His widely read books include A Textbook of Translation and Approaches to Translation. His dual theory considers two types of translation: semantic and communicative.


Amara Lakhous is the author of the Italian fiction book, Scontro Di Civiltà per un Ascensore a Piazza Vittorio (Clash of Civilizations Over an Elevator in Piazza Vittorio). Lakhous prefers to write in two languages, Italian and Arabic, because he believes his work goes beyond literary translation.


Nobel Prize winner Günter Grass was a German novelist, playwright, poet, sculptor, and a popular icon of the German generation growing up under the Nazi influence. He is the author of several books, namely Danzig Trilogy and The Tin Drum, his most memorable novel that won him a Nobel Prize in Literature in 1999.


Image by @criene via Twenty20

The best-selling author of Winter Journal, The New York Trilogy, The Book of Illusions, among many other works, Paul Auster used to be a translator of French literature. A director and a multi-awarded writer of fiction, poetry, and screenplays, Auster published books that have been translated into more than 40 languages.

We’d love to know which one is your favorite! And if you know other inspiring quotes, share them with us in the comments!

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Jenie Gabriel

The author

Jenie Gabriel

Jenie creates and coordinates content for Gengo's marketing team. Originally from the Philippines, she was an advertising creative in Singapore before moving to Tokyo. In her spare time, you’ll find her wandering around the city or planning her next escapade.

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