Twitter Traffic: ‘Words Without Borders’ Is 15 and Translators are Tweeting It Up

In News by Porter Anderson

The online translation hub ‘Words Without Borders’ is being Twitter-toasted on its anniversary, mainly by translators who remember getting their early breaks (and being paid) by the magazine.

Image – iStockphoto: Daniel V. Fung

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

‘My First-Ever Sale as a Translator…’
In its 15 years, the online magazine Words Without Borders has offered monthly collections of international work translated into English to help promote translated writings to a consumer base not always quick to embrace them.

In that decade and a half, writers represented at the site have included Nobel laureates, established names, and emerging authors. In fact, the program has published 2,400 pieces from 132 countries, and translated from 112  languages.

The group’s executive director, Karen Phillips, has let Publishing Perspectives know that today (June 21), the organization is engaged in an anniversary Twitter conversation with translators, many of whom are tweeting about how Word Without Borders has helped amplify their work.

You can follow the conversation with hashtag #wwbandme or follow Words Without Borders‘ Twitter handle at @wwborders.

Some of the folks you’ll find online with you include Sophie Hughes, the translator of Laia Jufresa’s Umami from Oneworld:

And here’s Alex Zucker, translator of Jantar’s Three Plastic Rooms by Petra Hůlová, with the highly important point that Phillips’ Words Without Borders doesn’t ask translators to work without compensation, “for the exposure”:

Meg Berkobien appears to agree with Zucker that being paid for one’s work is a key factor that bonds translators to Words Without Borders:

There’s a heartfelt note from Lisa Dillman, the translator of Víctor del Árbol’s A Million Drops, which was just released in May by Other Press:

Anton Hur–a teacher in Ewha University’s graduate program in translation and interpretation–has translated Kyung-Sook Shin’s The Court Dancer, coming August 7 from Pegasus:

And if anything, Katy Derbyshire, translator of Christa Wolf’s acclaimed The German List series–here’s Seagull’s Eulogy for the Living, just out in May–has it summed up in an impromptu slogan:

All this tweeterie includes some appeals for donations. The nonprofit magazine has three donors who are matching contributions through June in an effort to get the program some $15,000 in new funding, a 15th anniversary campaign that’s supported by some robust tweets from the American Literary Translators Association (ALTA), as well.

We’ll leave you with a couple more of the tweets about Words Without Borders, arriving at #wwbandme:

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.