This was prompted by this question: Does a translation editor need to know the language of the source document?

Recently, a question was asked about the editing / translation process of a work in general - confirmed by the OP in a comment that they weren't restricting the question to literary translations.

Is this type of question actually on-topic here? This seems more like a question about the process of creating a work of literature, which seems like it would be more fitting on Writing.SE.

(Yes, I'm aware I answered the question. A quick check in chat seemed to indicate that there was precedent, so I answered it. However, I'd like to actually have a meta discussion about it.)

  • Is this question really about translations in general or the process of translation?
    – muru
    Commented Oct 22, 2018 at 0:53
  • 1
    @muru - both; the creative part of a translation.
    – Mithical Mod
    Commented Oct 22, 2018 at 6:41
  • 1
    How different is literature.meta.stackexchange.com/q/705/168 from this, then?
    – muru
    Commented Oct 22, 2018 at 8:37
  • @muru - very. That's asking about dealing with questions about / related to translations of existing works. This is asking about questions related to translations not about existing, published works..
    – Mithical Mod
    Commented Oct 22, 2018 at 8:39
  • so not about translations in general, but unpublished translations?
    – muru
    Commented Oct 22, 2018 at 8:47

1 Answer 1


I'm leaning toward No. Just as general questions about how writers create new literary works are off-topic here, general questions about how translators do or should translate are also off-topic. Those questions are better handled at writing SE. Translation studies is a vast field in itself, and while it overlaps with literature, it is not a subset.

Questions about existing translations of literary works are fine. Questions specifically foregrounding the translation of those works are also fine, and that's why we have our tag. That is to say, if a questions asks about any of these:

... then the questions seem on-topic, as they are not about creating new translations. But other questions about translations seem out of scope for us:

Although none of these have been closed here, all seem off-topic for us. The first two would probably be better asked at Writing SE. The last would generate only opinion-based answers. When reading poetry in translation, for example, some people might prefer a more literally accurate rendition even if it is in prose, while others might prefer a poetic recreation that takes liberties with the phrasing of the original.

Questions about which is the best translation of a given work also seem opinion-based. Even if the question defines "best" in a certain way, e.g., "easiest to read," what counts as easy to read is subjective.

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