Languages, Translations Of Books & Knowing English

I’ve always loved languages. Maybe it comes from my love of reading? I do know that I’m not a fan of learning languages academically, they were alright until it came to my GCSE’s. Then it was just…oh well I have a crap memory. Within the bookblogging community, we come across so many people who not only love books, but who also have learned English as their second language.

I dedicate this post to anyone who can speak, read, understand two+ languages. I know bits and pieces of French and my German is a lil’ better in terms of reading it. But I can’t speak it, off the top of my head.

pink dragon divide


THERE ARE SO MANY! Honestly, anyone who can speak another language I envy you. I also am in awe of all those, who learned English as their second language, cause that takes some doing. However, I can’t help but feel like eventually English will literally obliterate all other languages. It’s known as the ‘universal’ language. And books are also published in English, so for those who have it as their second language, that will undoubtedly cause problems.

I did a quick Google search and these are the hardest languages to learn (obviously it’s still down to the person, as to how hard they find it)

  • Finnish
  • Japanese
  • Russian
  • English
  • Mandarin

They’re in no particularly order – but these are the languages which are some of the hardest to learn. So…I’d say you’re all doing well if English is your second language.

mugs divide

Translations of Books

I asked a question on the discord server I’m part of, which was this.

is it more expensive to buy books in English or your native language?

The overall opinion was that it’s more expensive to buy the books, in their native language than in English. There are many problems with this,the main one being if they have family members who may like a certain book. But they can’t read/understand English well, they’re not going to be able to read the book.

Whilst it’s useful I suppose to read in English, as it helps your English vocabulary grow, and you learn more about the structure of the language. I’d have thought it’d be nice, to have the option to read it in your native language. If English wasn’t my native language, I’d certainly want to try and read books in my native language. But the price difference between English and their Native language is pretty absurd.

I then went on to ask this question: so we have an issue with not all books being translated?

The answer is yes. Sometimes they stop translating before the end of a series, mostly it’s just not all the books are being translated which is understandable. So many books come out each year, it’d be hard to translate them all into every language needed. As well as that, we have to take into account the cost of translating the book/s and then reprinting them.

purple dragon divide

Knowing English

Reading books in your native language, doesn’t make you any less of a reader, for not reading it in English. No matter what other people say, know that if you read in English, you’re doing really well cause I couldn’t read a book in another language and understand it.

But please don’t forget your native language, even if the world wants you to, don’t. Languages are wonderful things, it’s sad that some are nearly dead, because they’re part of our culture. Part of our history.

pink dragon divide

Is English your Native language or second language? Let me know your thoughts on everything I’ve talked about, from learning languages, to the chances of English wiping out the other languages. Down to your thoughts on books being translated into your native language. 



27 thoughts on “Languages, Translations Of Books & Knowing English

  1. I’m part of the +, I guess. My mother language is Swedish, I’m teaching English foreign language at high school here in France where I now live. Add to that German and Spanish and you’ve got my profile 😊 I think that I’m lucky being able to read books in the original language (the five mentioned), because even if English is referred to as the most important, there is so much that gets lost in translation…

    Liked by 1 person

      • And the other way around, too! 🙂 Expressions can also be difficult, as they are mostly related to the countries’ culture. I really enjoy Peter Mayle’s description of his life in the South of France, and Stephen Clarke is so funny and accurate in depicting French people (must say that he’s exaggerating somewhat!)

        Liked by 1 person

  2. English is my second language and I mostly read in English because the books I’m interested in (mostly with LGBT characters and/or indie books) never get translated, or only very late 😦 e.g. The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue, one of my favourite books only came out this month in Hungary. The sequel comes out in October in the US and February 2019 in Hungary. It’s difficult to wait that long when you love a book.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Ah waiting for books to be released is painful enough as it is for us, forget about you readers who have to wait a year or more longer, just to get it in your language. So difficult to wait that long, even more so when like you said, you love the book

      Liked by 1 person

  3. English is my native language. I took Spanish lessons for 7 years but never got past reading children’s books in Spanish. Waiting for translations would be frustrating, and then you have to wonder about the quality of the translation. I’m reading a book right now that was translated from Norwegian. I can definitely tell that it was translated. There are some weird, clunky run-on sentences.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. i guess i can say english is my second language?? but i actually learned english when i entered kindergarten and was soon placed into an esl program for a year. by the time i was in fourth grade i was judged to know english enough by my school that i didn’t have to keep attending esl. even though i learned english i can proudly say i never stopped learning and keeping up with my spanish. i kept talking it at home, would read random things like the newspaper and books as a kid (and now). out of my three siblings i’m the one who speaks it fluently enough that i can translate pretty well on the spot and the youngest has sadly lost most of the language (though he’s agreed to take spanish in high school and college to keep it from dying (he’s 13)

    i can’t really say that i’ve tried to buy books in spanish so i’m not sure about prices but i do think even physical english books are expensive (#poorunistudent). i usually just try to find something at a library (though their selections are usually limited to nonfiction and fiction, very few YA titles) or read articles and stuff online. right now i’m challenging myself to read this book called storm of steel (that i need to read for school) in spanish 🙂

    and of course i would pick one of the harder languages to want to learn! i took a japanese language course while i was in college and learned how to introduce myself but the grammar pretty much went over my head. i also wasn’t able to keep up with it and now i think my “inability” to learn it is more of an inconsistency to practice it on my own. i lack discipline xD but there are SO MANY other languages i wish i could speak!

    i “can read” Portuguese a bit (as i once read a blog post and was able to understand like 90% of the content) and i can understand phrases in italian and french thanks to my spanish. but i wish i knew them fluently. maybe i’ll try to actively learn them sometime in this academic year xD

    WELP imma go now this comment is way long Orz loved the post as language is something i love

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ah ❤ I love languages, I also wish I could speak another language fluently, I can read bits of French and German and usually get a general gist of it. But I can't speak it, I could read it aloud (without really knowing it's meaning and it sound alright)

      I feel languages get overlooked a lot, particularly when you get ppl say 'just learn English' like no you go learn the other language, I really want to learn German better and/or French so we'll see…I'll probably go with German though.

      Japanese is HARD. I don't know any of it all I know is it has several alphabets – I'm already confused by that alone. Spanish and French sound similar to me but I don't really know any Spanish.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. This is a really interesting post, speaking as a native English speaker! I’m trying to learn German on my own and I’m surprised it’s not in the top 5 most difficult list. I can understand why English tricky, because of all the verb tenses that some languages aren’t distinguished from one another and the many influences.

    I think the bigger problem is that publishers don’t invest in eastern markets by making English books immediately available in other languages. It might be really expensive and/or difficult because different countries have different copyright laws.

    I think that it’s sad that so many young readers in other parts of the world rely on translations. It makes me really curious about what kinds of books are popular amongst young people from different countries who don’t know about the international book blogging community.

    Liked by 1 person



      *recovers from shrieking* German is in my opinion a lot easier to learn than French, if you haven’t already I’d suggest using Duolingo, it’s a useful website and app for learning languages. It’s what I used to help at school, as well as having a German tutor

      I think the main problem is, they won’t invest in translations straight away due to costs and they need to see how well the book does first, in English >.< which sucks

      Yassss it certainly would be interesting to see what other young people read 🙂


  6. Awww;
    I did started learning english quite early in school, but it took me the longest time to “get” it. Up until my senior year of high school (2012)!! However, I had kept a fear and was anxious about using it “live” until last year… as my current job helped me with the over-use of it. I get a few french customers here and there, but it leaves me needing to explain stuff about our products in eng. all the time (I keep forgetting my words sometimes xD but I know more what i’m doing)

    I loved this post so much chloe !
    English books is much cheaper than french ones; in the first you can have sales for 2-3bucks, while in french it’s like 7-8 for a pocket book. not that huge of a difference, but it’s there. as I started reading in english this year (still have a bit of trouble with it..), I ran a LOT to “Shit. I cannot read that, it’s not translated.” which, let me tell you, is a real let down..


  7. Great post! I can read in Spanish as well as English (my native language), and I definitely agree it is kind of sad that English translations are cheaper than in mother languages. That has been my biggest surprise through the international interviews I have been conducting!


  8. English is my second language. Urdu is my native language (well, my parents also speak a different language but I’m not too comfortable speaking it as I’m too slow at it) but I’ve actually never read an Urdu book. I live in England,and grew up speaking English so I only read English books.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Personally I don’t feel like English would wipe out other laungages, if people keep up caring about the language they were born with. Sometimes it happens that my onw language is contaminated with English vocabulary, but are usuallt specific words.

    I personally discovered that I prefer English over Italian, because it’s a much faster language, with words that can bring a more big meaning. A thing that in Italian you need to express with three or four words. I like that it’s so direct.

    I kinda had to go to English because many English written book were never published in my country. And is not like I had too much choice. Soon I realized how much I preffered to read in English and not in Italian.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. English is my second language. I mostly read books in English though tbh. I just don’t really trust the translators. They translate pretty well but not word to word and I’m afraid to miss some things because of this. Some books I need to read in Finnish though because they’re hard enough to understand in my mother language, like mythology.

    I have tried learning other languages, like Swedish for like six years? But I only remmeber how to say things like ‘I don’t know’ and ‘I don’t speak Swedish’. I also tried learning French and Russian for a semester or two and honestly I can’t remember anything.

    Thanks to Supernatural I know one word in Japanese though! (;


  11. I don’t see English as my second language, just a language that I know. The price difference has a lot to do with the fact that publishers have to buy internationally and then have to translate. While the difference is big I totally understand why Dutch books are more expensive. The Dutch book market also has a set book price.

    Liked by 1 person

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