February 7, 2015
For some years, Spanish publishing houses have been establishing the rule of laying out translations of some titles on the same page design of the original book. It is some sort of “exact copy” that does not take into account the different lengths of the original and the translated text.
Translating then becomes something more than that. It is both translating and editing to shorten the translated text to adjust it to the original space with the consequent loss of part of what was written by the author.
I do not know if losing text to save space this way makes sense. There are other ways to solve it. But I cannot stop feeling like Procrustes, the classic mythical ancient Greek character who chopped off portions of people who did not fit into their beds.
[Image: Theseus slaying Procrustes in a painting at the bottom of an Attic red-figure kylix, c. 440 BC.
January 10, 2015
In the business of politics, common sense tells that, if you want to be elected, you should promise lower taxes. But, if you want to be reelected, you simply do it.
Coinciding with the next municipal elections in 2015, and regional and general elections in 2016, the Spanish government seems to have chosen the latter. Beginning January 1 2015, freelancers and professionals will be paying a 19% income tax instead of 21%. Value added tax will remain 21%.
This lower income tax —still one fifth of professional incomes— is barely noticeable in the individual economy of freelancers. We will have to wait to see its electoral effect.
[Image: Paul Vos, The Tax Collector, 1543, oil on canvas.]
December 27, 2014
Since this is 2014’s last post, it is the right moment to evaluate this year’s work.
The variety of subjects is no surprise to me, because, since the first negative symptoms of the actual crisis in the translating and editing sector of the Spanish economy,  subject diversification, more than specialization, has been the best formula to continue working.
The following list (in alphabetical order) of the subjects we have translated or edited during this year is the best evidence. These subjects have been: advertising, botany, children’s literature, cookbooks, table diaries, gardening, lecturing, logic, nutrition, publishers’ catalogues, traumatology, travel guides, phrase books for travelers, and web pages.
 Cf. Blanca Cia: “El sector editorial pierde 1.000 millones en cuatro años” [The publishing sector has lost 1,000 million euros in four years], El País, December 12 2014.
[Image: Giovanni Bellini: St. Jerome (patron saint of translators and interpreters) Reading in the Countryside, 1505, oil on canvas.]
December 13, 2014
I have just finished translating into English a long encyclopedia article on botany. It is not the first time.
Years ago, I also translated into English three books by Cuban specialists on that same matter. One was about that country’s orchids (Marta Aleida Díaz Dumas: Cuban Orchids, Editorial José Martí, 1997),  another about its forests (Enrique Del Risco Rodríguez: Cuban Forests. Their History and Characteristics, Editorial José Martí, 1999) , and one more about tobacco (Gaspar Jorge García Galló and Wilfredo Correa García: The Story of Havana Cigars, Editorial José Martí, 2002). 
I have also translated into Spanish chapters of a book about medicinal plants (Joanne Barnes, Linda A. Anderson, J. David Philipson: Plantas medicinales [Herbal Medicines], Pharma Editores, 2005),  and another about the beneficial properties of vegetable foods that has already been printed thrice (Paula Bartimeus: 100 alimentos que curan [The 100 Top Healing Foods], Grijalbo, first edition, 2009; first reprint, 2011; second edition, 2014). 
 Cf. “Cuban Orchids,” May 22 2010.
 Cf. “Cuban Forests,” June 26 2010.
 Cf. “Havana Cigars,” July 10 2010.
 Cf. “Herbs & Medicine,” October 23 2010.
 Cf. “Healing Foods: Second Edition in Spanish,” July 9 2011; “The Top 100 Healing Foods: New Spanish Edition,” March 29 2014.
[Image: Albert Dürer: Large Piece of Turf, 41 × 31.5 cm, watercolor and ink, 1503.]
October 18, 2014
With the recent publication—last Thursday—of the 23rd edition of Diccionario de la lengua española, we can count with a new—although old—tool to do our work.
This revised Real Academia de la Lengua Spanish-language dictionary has 2,376 pages that include 93,111 entries, 195,439 meanings and around 140,000 corrections to a total of 49,000 entries. 
 See also “Dictionaries & Manuals” in Categories.
[Image: Diccionario de la lengua española, 23rd (tercentennial) edition, RAE/Editorial Espasa-Calpe, 2014.]
October 4, 2014
From October 1st until yesterday, Fira de Barcelona was venue of the 32nd International Book Fair that gathered around its stands numerous groups of authors, publishers, editors, distributors, booksellers, graphic artists, translators, etc.
This last edition of Liber, which was dedicated to the late Spanish writer Ana María Matute (1945–2014), faces various problems as a consequence of the fall of local cultural consumption due to an economic crisis that is becoming chronic. Since the crisis began, book sales have accumulated a drop of –40.6%. 
However, the Spanish book sector remains the country’s first cultural industry, including an exports market that is still open, especially in France, Portugal, Italy, United Kingdom and Mexico.
 Cf. “A Twenty-Year Economic Setback,” August 9 2014.
[Image: Fira de Barcelona, Liber’s venue.]
August 30, 2014
The use of electronic cigarettes has produced this new term. Although tobacco-related artifacts have a history that goes back many centuries, now it is frequent to hear or read the new verb to vape, widely accepted by its use. It has been defined as: “To inhale vapor from electronic cigarettes.” The Spanish verb—although not officially accepted by Real Academia de la Lengua—is vapear.
The name of this activity is vaping (frequently translated into Spanish as vapear), and a user is called vaper (vapeador).
These terms are beginning to appear often in scholarly medical texts about the effect of the use of electronic cigarettes.
There are no guidelines about the use of these terms in science papers in Spanish or about their typographic presentation. We will have to wait.
[Image: Ottón A. Suárez: Pre-Columbian Y-shaped bone inhalers to sniff tobacco. Taino culture, Hispaniola. Ink drawing from his book El día y la noche del taíno, Editorial Gente Nueva, 2001.]
August 9, 2014
Back after a few weeks of “creative idleness,” I am posting again about the current situation of the book sector in Spain. An analysis of this sector published in mid-July by a local newspaper is alarming. It points out a twenty-year economic setback and an increased drop in its production between 2012 and 2013. All data published about 2013 have negative (–) signs. Since the beginning of the current crisis, turnover accumulates a –40.6% drop and falls back to 1994 figures. According to these data, the number of titles edited has dropped to –3.5%; the millions of copies published, to –12.1%; the mean number of copies per title, to –9%; the number of copies sold, to –9.6%; and turnover (in millions of euros), to 11.7%. Turnover in the book trade has dropped in all its distribution channels. It has dropped in bookstores, to 14.1%; in bookstore chains, to –16.3%; in large supermarkets, to 15.6%; in newsstands, to 21.3%; by phone, to –28.3%; and in the Internet, to –14.9%. Literary work turnovers have fallen to –17.2% and pocketbooks, to –17.5% with 2,300 titles less.  The impact of this situation on translators can be felt with fewer translation contracts. Newcomers in the profession are having difficulties to find work.
 Data quoted from Winston Manrique Sabogal: «Saltan las alarmas en el sector editorial español al retroceder 20 años» (A Twenty-Year Economic Setback Causes Alarm in the Spanish Publishing Sector), El País daily, July 14 2014.
[Image: Theodor Galle: Impressio Librorum (Book Printing), circa 1633, engraving.]
June 28, 2014
The Spanish Treasury Department announced last Monday its planned tax reductions for 2015 and 2016.
Most freelance translators—who have faced 15% to 18%, to 21% income taxes in recent years—will pay 20% beginning January 2015. That is, this tax reform cuts down tax deductions only one point.
Seen from a practical point of view, one fifth of our income will continue to be destined to pay taxes.
[Image: Paul Vos, The Tax Collector, 1543, oil on canvas.]
June 21, 2014
Madrid’s Book Fair closed last Sunday with a 5% increase in sales compared with 2013. Sales had grown that year 9.3% compared with 2012. This 5% increase was a slight relief in a situation that, in times of economic crisis, has caused a 40% decrease in book sales since 2008.
The publishing sector barely overcomes its own crisis and many observers take pains to publish data and statistics, and to analyze its causes.
Included in those statistics, I have found very revealing data that were recently published in the Spanish press informing how local “sales revenues are distributed:” 10% for authors, 25–35% for publishers, 30–35% for distributors and 30–35% for booksellers. 
And, what about translators? It seems that they do not even count. 
 Winston Manrique, Sciammarella y Rodrigo Silva: “Los eslabones de la creación y la producción de un libro,” [Contributors in the creation and production of books], El País, online edition, June 11 2014.
 Cf. “Madrid’s 2014 Book Fair,” May 31 2014; “Madrid’s 2014 Book Fair (2),” June 7 2014; “Madrid’s 2014 Book Fair (3),” June 14 2014; and “Translating Backstage,” June 23 2012.