Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The year in translation

Three percent "a resource for international literature at the University of Rochester" and named after the oft-cited statistic (first established by Bowker) that only 3% of books published in the U.S. are translations, offers an overview of the year in translation, including a 2009 translation spreadsheet of the original fiction and poetry translations released in the U.S. during 2009.

In translations by country of origin, France tops the list, accounting for 32, or 9.2%, of 348 translations, while Spanish is the most translated language with 59 titles. 11 Norwegian titles in translation were released in the U.S. market in 2009 - the same number as lil'old Russia (lots of space and people, but evidently lacking in significant writers and literary tradition) and 1 more than measly China.

Three percent more than suggests that translations are a measure of a reading nations' insularity: The motivating force behind the website is the view that reading literature from other countries is vital to maintaining a vibrant book culture and to increasing the exchange of ideas among cultures. In this age of globalization, one of the best ways to preserve the uniqueness of cultures is through the translation and appreciation of international literary works. To remain among the world’s best educated readers, English speakers must have access to the world’s great literatures. It is a historical truism and will always remain the case that some of the best books ever written were written in a language other than English. 

According to statistics compiled by the Norwegian publishers association  279 adult fiction titles were translated into Norwegian in 2008, along with 333 titles for children.  In both categories, the number of translations exceeded the number of original Norwegian titles (275 and 233 respectively). Naturally, translations will be comparatively more numerous in nations of minor languages, but these are still striking figures: 279 titles for a population of under 5 million, as compared with 348 translations for a U.S. population of more than 300 million.

Free Technology for Teachers

I woke from troubled sleep this morning berating myself for neglecting to nominate the superb Free Technology for Teachers for the Edublogs 2009 awards. Rushed over to see if it was too late, which it was, but no matter...many others confirmed my excellent judgment and voted Free Technology for Teachers as the best individual educational blog for 2009. Congratulations!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

The worst books

Pleased to see Vernon God Little picking up several endorsements in this contest by The Guardian.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

How Google works

I always suspected the secret behind Google was  something like this.

Preview new NYPL site

A video showing the new NYPL site (and three cheers for the absence of music!)

Access myLibrary for iPhone

The iPhone/GPS app AccessMyLibrary from Gale will point you to libraries within a 10-mile radius of your location. (libraries that do not subscribe to a Gale product are not shown, however). You can then select a library and obtain access to all its Gale electronic resources. You can also use this app to find the address or to contact the[Gale subscribing] library in your area directly. See a thorough review/explanation at Resource Shelf.

The new digital future

A nice nosegay of stuff on the new digital future at Bookforum.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Empowering the peanut gallery

Alan Jacobs at Text Patterns makes the brazen claim that concentration and distraction are incompatible entities. Actually that thought had occurred to me also, but I wrote it off to old age. Jacobs provides some good references on this topic, and his post is followed by a string of interesting comments. The Chronicle of Higher Education discussed this phenomenon recently in  Teaching with Twitter: Not for the Faint of Heart - which is actually more about occupational health than higher education. In the video below, an enthusiastic faculty member notes that he now hears from students who were once to shy to speak up in class; once again, technology levels the playing field, this time taking away that unfair advantage formerly enjoyed by  ventriloquists. See also my earlier post  about backchanneling.

Friday, December 11, 2009

An outstanding Christmas decoration

A truly outstanding Christmas decoration! And testimony by the anonymous prankster about the response to this lifesize yuletide ornament (read it at Traveling Librarian) inspires faith in the goodness of mankind!

Letters of Note

What an attractive and interesting blog Letters of Note is! Here's the "about" blurb:

Letters of Note is an attempt to gather and sort fascinating letters, postcards, telegrams, faxes, and memos. Scans/photos where possible. Fakes will be sneered at. Updated every weekday.


For those interested in translations and the art of translation, The Quarterly Conversation has assembled "Translate this book"

We’ve talked to some of the top translators into English working today; we’ve talked to publishers big and small; we’ve talked to agents, journalists, and foreign-language authors. We’ve asked them all for the best books that still aren’t in English. And have they responded. They’ve told us TRANSLATE THIS BOOK!, and now we pass that on to you.

Google real time search

A few months ago, Google introduced a new feature that lets you limit search results to items added during the past 24 hours. Now they've also added a "latest" feature, that lets you filter down to items added during the past minutes and seconds. Very cool, and a useful supplement to Twitter and realtime search engines. Here's a demo video - without narration, but with annoying music, so turn your speaker off  (why do so many videos come with this kind of useless music?  Silence is golden.)