Is German Competing with English as a Gateway Language for Translations?

In Discussion by Edward Nawotka

Beyond Icelandic, are there other languages where German is functioning as an serving as an alternate gateway for translation?

By Edward Nawotka

In today’s lead story about the bottleneck in Icelandic translation Amanda DeMarco writes:

Though it’s customary to speak of English as a gateway language for translation, in the case of Icelandic, Germany has clearly supplanted it. “As there are only a handful of titles being translated from Icelandic into English every year, the gateway language for Iceland is indeed German,” commented Agla Magnúsdóttir, Director of the Icelandic Literature Fund (ILF).

The German-as-gateway-language concept has its weaknesses; English functions (or functioned, or was supposed to have functioned) as a gateway language (in large part) because so much of the world learns English as a foreign language. A better model might be the viral spread of literature among related countries and languages, with important ‘carriers.’

Based on this assertion, are there other languages where German is serving as an alternate gateway for translation?

About the Author

Edward Nawotka

A widely published critic and essayist, Edward Nawotka serves as a speaker, educator and consultant for institutions and businesses involved in the global publishing and content industries. He was also editor-in-chief of Publishing Perspectives since the launch of the publication in 2009 until January 2016.