Translators Associations Eurasia: ITHL

Promoting translation

Translators Associations Eurasia: ITHLThe Institute for the Translation of Hebrew (ITHL) was founded in 1962 with the primary purpose of familiarising foreign readers with the best of modern Hebrew literature. It accompanied the growth of Israel as a young state with people from very diverse cultures. It based itself on the “rich and rapidly evolving literary culture” evidenced by the country’s early days.

Even though it is a translators association, the range of the activities of ITHL has expanded over the years, going farther beyond translation. The Israeli organisation concludes, unafraid to show a certain pride, that “largely in response to the work of ITHL, international interest in Hebrew literature has grown significantly”. Nowadays, Hebrew literature is made available in over 68 languages.

This Hebrew translation association has a panel of independent experienced professionals that evaluate the suitability of new titles to be published in foreign languages. Only the works which are considered to fulfil the demands for quality standards will be accepted. Over the past few years, the response of the international publishing market to the translators association’s programme has also been taken into consideration when choosing the authors and the titles to be published.

One of the main activities of the translation association from Israel is “the preparation and promotion of new Hebrew titles in translation”. In addition to supervising the translations, the organisation also commissions and facilitates them, a great opportunity both for independent professionals and translators companies. If required, information on authors and titles is made available to publishers. ITHL tries to guarantee that the full or partial translation of newly published books is available in “at least one foreign language”.

Furthermore, the Israeli translators association acts as a literary agent for more than 230 leading authors of adult and juvenile literature. All the new authors and titles that are represented by ITHL can be found in the yearly catalogues the association produces, which are published separately according to their target audience: adults or children and young adults. The mentioned catalogues comprise synopses, biographies and information about titles which have already been published abroad. The two pocket directories organised by the translation association have a complete list of authors and titles represented by ITHL.

All negotiations and contracts concerning titles ITHL represents “must be conducted through the Institute or its authorized representatives abroad”. There are certain cases where the translators association acts solely as an agent; however, there are others for which it holds translation rights. As far as titles that have not yet been translated into the required language are concerned, publishers are allowed to choose their own translator, always subject to approval by ITHL. The organisation states that “it is of primary concern” that they “maintain
a high standard of translation”. Whenever possible, the association helps assess new translators.

The Hebrew translation association publishes catalogues of new adult titles twice every year, in spring and in autumn. A catalogue of new juvenile and children’s books is published once every year, in spring time.

The Bibliographic Centre and Database

The ITHL bibliographic centre has around 450 anthologies of Hebrew literature in 40 languages. In some of the cases, the project was initiated by the translators association, while others have been the result of publishers having approached the organisation with a project of their own. In all of the cases, ITHL offers translation, editorial and / or financial support. When required, they may also assist when it comes to selecting the material.

The association’s database was established thirty years ago, listing all translations of Hebrew literature into foreign languages. According to ITHL, it is “an invaluable resource for publishers and researchers”. In has over 46,000 records of translated material in 66 languages, a separate entry for each work, as well as for each short story or poem. Author and title indexes are in Hebrew and in English. It provides references to articles and reviews on recent Hebrew publications.

Financial aid available

A publisher who undertakes independent translation of a book may be provided with financial aid. It may also be granted to literary publications that dedicate a special issue to modern Hebrew literature, as well as to publishers who include works that represent it in their anthologies. Aid is always subject to approval by the board of the association and to the availability of funds.

Modern Hebrew Literature

The perfectly suitable title concerns a “quality English language literary journal”, which is published once a year by the translation association, in partnership with Toby Press. The main purpose of the publication is to provide foreign readers with the chance to keep abreast of “Israel’s busy literary scene”. In every issue, you may find new fiction extracts, articles of general interest, interviews with authors, poetry and reviews of new books written in Hebrew. If you wish to subscribe, you should get in touch with Toby Press.

Conferences and Workshops

The ITHL organises them “to promote general interest in Hebrew literature and to foster the highest standards of translation”. Through them translators may compare experiences, meet the authors they are translating and discuss a variety of topics.

Keep in mind that Israel is a linguistically and culturally diverse community, with over 33 languages and dialects used by local communities. However, modern Hebrew is the main language. Worldwide, there are around 8.5 million Hebrew speakers, though not necessarily the same version of the language, as there are a few variations.

When you fill-in your profile details to become a Lexis member, always choose your mother tongue as your working language. Lexis – Connections with meaning

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