TIPS TO ENSURE YOU'RE READING A GOOD ENGLISH TRANSLATION OF A FOREIGN LANGUAGE BOOK

Please note that tips can vary depending on what you're looking for in a translation.
  1. Read the first page of every translation available in the bookstore or library.
    You'll be shocked at how different individual translations may be. It will be pretty clear which is the most readable and well-written.
  2. Read the Translator's Note/Introduction in the beginning of the book.
    This doesn't exist in every translation, but if it's there, you should definitely take a look. The translator will usually describe their writing process. In my opinion, go for the one in which the translator writes the author's intent as opposed to a literal translation, as this can lead to clunky writing.
  3. Make sure the book is not an abridgment.
    The Count of Monte Cristo is over 1,000 pages... Deal with it. If it's not that long, check to see if "abridged" is written somewhere on the cover. Do not purchase if so.
  4. Check what year the translation was written.
    I find that more recent translations tend to be better. There was a time when translators would not only translate a book, but they would censor it as well. More modern translations don't have this issue. It's not a steadfast rule, but just something to be wary of.
  5. Google the book.
    Sometimes the Internet will tell you what the most popular or well renown translation is. Voila! That means, "so there's that!"
  6. Google the translator.
    A lot of these translators are writers or authors themselves. If they have any sort of acclaim for their own writing, then there's a higher chance they will do a nice job with someone else's story.
  7. Learn the original language.
    That way you won't need to read a translation, and all of this is moot. Might take you a few years though.