If you take a closer look at the global culture and its development, you’ll notice that translators have been shaping the world ever since the first books were created. They were the people who wanted to share written wisdom by removing the barrier of language.
Even today, translators play a vital role in maintaining open communication between different areas of the world. But they also continue their goal of spreading knowledge through the translation of valuable literary works.
A few weeks ago we talked about literary works and what it takes to translate them the right way. In today’s article, we are going to circle back on the topic and have a look at the most translated books of all times.
#1: The Bible
If you take two random tops of the most translated books, you may not find the Bible at the top in both of them. This happens because the number of Bible translations varies.
Since the book has two main chapters (the Old and New Testaments), some tops consider the Bible as a whole, which gets to a total of 670 languages (or translations). However, if you take the two chapters separately, the numbers are way more impressive. Just the New Testament has been translated into almost 2,200 languages!
#2: The Little Prince
Written in 1943 by Antoine de Saint Exupéry, “Le petit prince” was translated in over 300 languages, which makes it the most translated non-religious text of the world.
The story is fascinating and teaches children about the power of imagination and the complexity of human nature. Furthermore, it is one of those beloved children’s books you return to as an adult and discover new nuances that you couldn’t grasp as a child.
The original title of this literary masterpiece is “Le Avventure di Pinocchio” and it was written in 1883 by Carlo Collodi. Since it was written, the book has been translated in over 260 languages (the numbers differ depending on the source).
The story of the wooden puppet turned real boy is so impressive that it spread across the world and, in the modern days, there are several movies depicting it. While it’s true that most kids nowadays would rather watch the movie than read the book, it’s still a huge accomplishment!
#4: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
Yet another wonderful children’s book that was turned in several movies in modern times! But before film directors found it interesting, the translators of the world made it available to 174 other languages cultures.
Just like The Little Prince, the story of 8-year-old Alice appeals to both children and adults because it comes packed with logic and maths games and lets readers see a new perspective of the world.
#5: Andersen’s Fairy Tales
The beloved Danish author, Hans Christian Andersen, had a huge impact on the world’s culture through the stories he told. It took him around 17 years to complete this masterpiece, but today the world is a better place due to his impressive writing!
Stories like “The Emperor’s New Clothes” and “The Ugly Duckling” are still children’s favourite, and this says a lot considering that modern kids have access to advanced technology from an early age. Also, several of his stories have been turned into movies, so his legacy continues to shape young minds.
We, as human beings, love a good story and this is proved by the fact that all non-religious most translated books of all times were written as children’s books. However, all the titles above are a delight for both adults and children, which explains why they became so wildly popular all over the globe.
Still, this couldn’t have happened without the help of conscious translators who worked hard to keep the spirit of the story alive!