Mills & Boon – Translation Kings

The news that Mills & Boon have decided to translate their slushy romantic novels into Polish raises some interesting questions about the nature of translation and the world of translated literature. As most translators know, the most translated book in the world is of course the Holy Bible. Statistics (from UNESCO’s Index Translationum) suggest that the most translated authors include (the works of) Walt Disney, Agatha Christie, William Shakespeare and Vladimir Lenin to name a few.

Polish is 14th on the list of most translated languages and 8th on the list of languages most translated into – an interesting discrepancy. The lists are given below. The 20 most translated languages (according to UNESCO’s Index Translationum):

Original Language
1    English
2    French
3    German
4    Russian
5    Italian
6    Spanish
7    Swedish
8    Latin
9    Danish
10    Dutch
11    Czech
12    Ancient Greek
13    Japanese
14    Polish
15    Hungarian
16    Arabic
17    Norwegian
18    Portuguese
19    Hebrew
20    Chinese

The 20 languages most often translated into (according to UNESCO’s Index Translationum):

Translated Language
1    German
2    Spanish
3    French
4    Japanese
5    English
6    Dutch
7    Portuguese
8    Polish
9    Russian
10    Danish
11    Italian
12    Czech
13    Hungarian
14    Finnish
15    Norwegian
16    Swedish
17    Modern Greek
18    Bulgarian
19    Korean
20    Slovak

To return to the issue of Mills & Boon translating their novels into Polish, it is interesting taking this in its context. The Harlequin publishing house has a strong foothold in the Polish market which would make it difficult for Mills & Boon to make an impact. However, the reason why Mills & Boon have deciced to translate into Polish is due to the fact that they have noticed a great interest in their novels amongst Polish immigrants in Britain, not amongst Polish people in Poland.

These new Mills & Boon books will be published to begin with in Great Britain, rather than in Poland. Strangely enough, a new (translation) market niche has been created which effectively means that Polish language literature has two separate markets – the market in Poland and the market outside Poland. This in turn could effect the Polish being used in each market: the Polish used by Poles in England already differs somehat from the Polish used in Poland. Might this discrepancy in the two Polishes be increased by the publication of Polish books in England?


3 thoughts on “Mills & Boon – Translation Kings

  1. This is great news for Poland and great news for Polish translators. At last, the Polish language gets the respect it deserves.
    I had done some Polish translations lately and enjoyed every minute. Polish – the best language in the world

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