The Beauty of Literary Translation

The third book in the "Another" series by Japanese author, Yukito Ayatsuji. We just received our advanced copies of the English translation we provided for Yen Press. The book is available for pre-order in hardcover via Amazon and other book retailers. 


It's no secret. We love languages.

The beauty and art of the script.

The sound of the words spoken or sung.

The complexities of the meanings and metaphors in different cultures.

Our work is particularly rewarding when we are able to contribute translation for creative projects, such as marketing translation and literary translation. It’s a fascinating exercise, moving a creative person's work (their meaning, thier vision, thier dream) from one language and culture into another, because it goes beyond translation.

Metaphor, idioms, slang and hidden meaning pervade creative works and most times there is no cultural equivalent for them in the new language.

In Spanish there is saying a saying, “Salir en un ojo de la cara.”

It literally means, “To take an eye from my face.” Not only does it sound like something horrible from a book you probably wouldn’t want to read, but the translation is also incorrect. What it actually means is, “That is really expensive.”

However using that translation, while correct, would lose the spice and flow the original author wanted in her writing. A good literary translator that is fluent in both English and Spanish cultures would replace the phrase with something like, “That costs an arm and a leg.”

Literary translation is so challenging because the translator is so often tasked with finding more than the right meaning, but the right metaphor. The right voice. The right mental image that conveys the author’s creativity in a culturally relevant way for this new audience.

One of the greatest examples of the importance of literary translation is that of the story of Don Quixote de la Mancha. Originally written in Spanish, one of the best lines from the book is:

“Demasiada cordura puede ser la peor de las locuras, ver la vida como es y no como debería de ser.”

Had lines like this one from Don Quixote been given to someone who was simply bilingual we might not know the man from La Mancha. A straightforward translation of the line above would follow something like:

“Too much good sense can be the worst of follies, to see life how it is and not how it should be.”

Instead, a literary translator gave us this:

“Too much sanity may be madness — and maddest of all: to see life as it is, and not as it should be!”

The difference, makes all the difference.

Contact us today for a free consultation regarding your literary translation or other multilingual creative project. Call 831-655-9588 or email

Chakra The Invincible - The Next Edition of Comics Uniting Nations to be Translated

Translation by Design is humbled and thrilled to be a part of Comics Uniting Nations' next project. This Global Goals edition of "Chakra the Invincible," from Stan Lee's Graphic India, will be translated into 6 languages with help from our linguists and graphic localization team. Download the English version of the comic by clicking the image above. Learn more here about Comic's United Nations and the Global Goals for Sustainable Development.

More Than Just Spanish, Finding Interpreters for Indigenous Mexican Languages

(Image from the Florentine Codex, a 2400 page document from the 16th centry that included the first romanization of the Nahuatl language, known informally as Aztec and spoken today by 1.5 million people in central Mexico.)

In Mexico there are 11 language families, 68 indigenous languages, and 364 linguistic variants. When individuals from Mexico come to the United States to find work or a better opportunity for their families they aren’t just speaking Spanish. Speakers of languages like Triqui and Mixteco often do not speak any Spanish making their time here in the U.S. challenging. In the following stories from the California Report and National Public Radio you can learn a bit more about the difficulties facing speakers of indigenous Mexican languages, their employers and hospitals where they are provided medical care without understanding what treatment they are being provided.


And here is the story, picked up nationally by NPR:


Contact Translation By Design for document translation and Indigenous Mexican Language Interpreters for the following languages:

Nahuatl, Yucatec Maya, Zapotec, Mixtec, Mayo, Yaqui, Tzeltal, Tzotzil, Chol, Totonac, Purépecha, Otomi, Mazahua, Mazatec, Chinantec, Mixe, Zoque, Popoluca, Popoloca language, Me'phaa, Wixarika, Naayerite, Tepehuán, Warihio, Raramuri, Seri, Chontal Maya, Chontal, Huave, Pame, Teenek, Kickapoo, Kiliwa, Paipai, Cucapá, Amuzgo, Triqui, Lacandon Maya, Mam Maya, Jakaltek, Matlatzinca, Tepehua, Chichimeca Jonaz, Pima Bajo, Ngiwa, Ixcatec, Ayapanec, and other indigenous Mexican languages

Inter-Cultural Awareness Trainer, Peter Fordos, Delivers "China Ready" Training


Peter Fordos and Duncan Young explain to California tourism and hospitality professionals the keys to ensuring Chinese tourists feel welcome during their visits. With the numbers of Chinese tourists visiting the United States expected to quadruple by 2023, forward thinking tourism professionals seek to understand the needs and wants of Chinese visitors to help their businesses and destinations gain a competitive advantage by creating a welcoming, culturally sensitive experience. 


Key takeaways included:

Culture: Remember “Face”, “Guanxi” and hierarchy; address the oldest ­first; give and receive money, keycards, business cards, receipts with two hands; number 8 is very lucky, number 4 is very unlucky; red, orange, yellow are good, avoid black and white; most popular travel times are summer, Chinese New Year (January-February) and National Day (October 1).

Comforts: Free Wi-Fi, Chinese tea and teakettle, slippers, noodle cups, Chinese TV channels, Chinese magazines/newspapers, toothpaste/brush; prefer warm or hot water, chopsticks, Chinese hot sauce, “dim sum” or family style tapas and include pictures of the dish if possible.

Credit Card: Accept Union Pay. If you accept Discover Card you already accept UnionPay. Elevon Merchant Services is the other option for processing. Put a sticker in your window. Offering specials or gifts with purchases made with UnionPay is one of the most effective ways to target the Chinese consumer.

Communication: Translate welcome material, important policies, room-service menu, product/store information, attraction guides, at least one page on website. WeChat and Weibo are the top social media platforms and having a page there will increase your awareness. Online review sites are also a key source of information for Chinese who are planning a trip.

If your business or organization is interested in China Cultural Training or other team building and executive development trainings please contact us at 831-655-9588 or by emailing

New Global Goals, New Social Logo for Translation By Design

With the launch of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals last Friday, September 25th, Translation By Design has redisigned our LinkedIn and Facebook logos to help raise awareness of the Global Goals.

For many months Translation By Design has been working on a Comic Translation project in coordination with Reading With Pictures, The World's Largest Lesson, and UNICEF to help bring the 17 Global Goals to millions of children around the world in 11 different languages.


China Ready Training for MCCVB Featured on KSBW News

The place where languages, cultures and commerce intersect, is where you find Translation by Design (TBD) supporting an array of businesses from global financial institutions and law firms, to international tourism destinations like Carmel-by-the-Sea, California. On July 30th, TBD conducted a cross-cultural training program in Carmel for members of the Monterey County Convention and Visitors Bureau to help them better understand the opportunity and cultural needs of Chinese tourists. Chinese tourism revenue to California is expected to quadruple by 2023. This "China Ready" training is meant to help Monterey County gain a competitive advantage over other destinations vying for Chinese tourists. Click the image above to view coverage of the MCCVB "China Ready" effort covered by KSBW.

China Ready Tourism Training for Monterey County Convention and Visitors Bureau


Today, 60 hoteliers, restauranteurs, retailers, and tourist attraction operators gathered in Carmel-by-the-Sea to learn:

Why China? Why Monterey? Why Now?

These business representatives are members of the Monterey County Convention and Visitors Bureau, the organization that hired our cross-cultural training team, to provide a "China Ready" training to attract and welcome this growing tourism market.

The stats about China that got their attention:

• Population of 1.4 billion people, is already CA’s top overseas market

• Rapidly growing middle class, disposable incomes and desire to travel

• California is their #1 destination in USA (45% market share)
• The Central Coast is the #1 region of interest to Chinese
• They are shifting away from tours to independent travel
• They spent most per traveler in California than any other nationality
By 2023 the number of tourists visiting us from China is expected to quadruple
The objective of the training is to help Monterey County Tourism and Hospitality businesses:
1. Attract Chinese tourists while they are in the process of planning a vacation to the USA (or before)
2. Welcome the Chinese tourists, once they are here, by providing culturally sensative service
3. Create moments they will treasure and share with their friends, families and followers on social media
The goal of the MCCVB is to turn Monterey into a welcoming place where Chinese tourists will want to spend more time...and money.
For MCCVB members that missed the training we will be delivering a second "China Ready" seminar in Monterey on Friday, September 18th. 

If you are unable to attend, or are a business that would like to learn more, please feel free to review the slide deck here (or by clicking the image below). If you would like to discuss how we could help your business do a better job attracting and welcoming Chinese tourists please call us or email


Translation for Legal Professionals is Serious Business

But that doesn't mean we can't have a little fun as well... Translation By Design was a featured exhibitor at the recent California Aliance of Paralegals Associations Annual Conference in San Jose. Instead of giving away the typical trade show tchotchkes we opted to use international cookies as a way of introducing our translation and interpretation services to the legal professionals in attendance. (BTW: The word "tchotchke" derives from a Slavic word for 'trinket'). The colorful Macaroons, representing the French language, were the most popular cookie. The other popular item at our table was the Double Magnum of wine we had for the opportunity raffle. A big thank you to our friends at Joyce Vineyards, a boutique winery based in Carmel Valley.


80 Days to Ratification of the United Nations Global Goals for Sustainable Development

80 Days and counting to The World's Largest Lesson:
We are excited to be donating the translation and typesetting, in 10 languages, of some of the educational materials they will be distributing to children and schools around the world. The mission? To make sure every person on earth knows about the United Nations 17 Global Goals.
The goals are as follows:
GOAL 1 - End poverty in all its forms everywhere
GOAL 2 - End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture
GOAL 3 - Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
GOAL 4 - Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all
GOAL 5 - Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
GOAL 6 - Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all
GOAL 7 - Ensure access to aordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all
GOAL 8 - Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
GOAL 9 - Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation
GOAL 10 - Reduce inequality within and among countries
GOAL 11 - Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
GOAL 12 - Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
GOAL 13 - Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts*
GOAL 14 - Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development
GOAL 15 - Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertication, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss
GOAL 16 - Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build eective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels
GOAL 17 - Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development

Helping U.N. Reach 100 Million Kids by Translating Global Goals

In September representatives from around the world will gather at the United Nations to ratify a list of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); essentially a global "to-do" list: "No Hunger," "No Poverty," "Clean Drinking Water," "Gender Equality." 

“Comics are a kind of universal visual language for communicating important concepts. Translation By Design is one of our heroes. Donating their services ensures the global goals are translated into the 11 languages spoken by more than half of the world’s population.” - Josh Elder, Founder of Reading with Pictures and Comics Ambassador for the U.S. State Department

I was drawn to support this project because of its ambitious global goals and its focus on educating and empowering young people. Children need to know and believe they have the power to make a difference. These comics have the power to shape their actions today, which will impact the planet for decades.

The comics will be released as part of The World’s Largest Lesson and Project Everyone which seeks to educate every person on the planet about the SDGs when they are ratified in September. Reading With Pictures has a Kickstarter campaign, active through tomorrow, seeking to raise $60,000 to help cover the costs of the first phase of the comics’ production.

This is a mission for humanity, unified goals that resonate with everyone, everywhere.


Sandra DeLay, President and Founder

Translation By Design

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