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Translations at Wikisource

Translations in general


Translations into English are generally accepted here in the English Wikisource. These may be either published translations or original translations of works by Wikisource editors of works published only in another language. Each kind of translation is discussed in its own section, below.

Published translations (public domain or open-licensed) have been created and released by an external translator and publisher. They allow the project to fill Wikisource with peer-reviewed, edited content and verifiable translations into English.

Original translations (always open-licensed per the project's terms of use) fill the need for translations which are not met by free material. This may be due to there being no English translation in existence, no free copy available (or known), or all existing versions being deemed inadequate.

Published translations


English Wikisource hosts previously published English source texts. This includes published translations of texts into English. Such texts and translations must meet both Wikisource:What Wikisource includes and Wikisource:Copyright policy, and are hosted on Wikisource in the same way as any other published work. See Help:Adding texts for more information.

Where relevant, this applies to multiple published translations of source texts, as appropriate per Wikisource:Versions. See the section on Multiple Translations below for more information.


Published translations do not bear the same copyright status as the original work. For example, even though the works of Jules Verne were published prior to 1929 and are no longer under copyright themselves, their translations into English may have been published later than 1928, and may even have had their copyright renewed since that time. The original publication date is thus not a guide to the copyright status of a translation, since each translation exists under its own copyright status. As a result, the copyright status must be checked independently of the status of the original work, and this may include determining the date of death for the translator.

To mark the copyright status of a translation, use {{translation license}} at the bottom of the translation's primary page in the main namespace. Refer to that template's documentation page for more details.

Translator as author


The translator of a work should be credited as such in the header of a work. For the mechanics of doing this see the documentation for {{header}}.

Additionally, translated works should be listed on the translator's page in the Author: namespace. See Help:Author pages for more information.

Selecting translations


Translations are not all equal, nor are they always similar. Some translations strive for a literal word-for-word translation of the source text, while others take a freer hand with vocabulary, grammar, and sentence order. Some may be aimed at monolingual readers, others may be prepared for students of the language in the source text. Some may be "literary" translations, others may be rather technical. Some translations may be aimed at an audience of young readers, others may be written for adults. Some source texts, especially for ancient, classical, or medieval texts, may themselves have a number of variant versions, with significant differences between them. Different translations may reflect different versions of the source text.

As a result of all this variation, some thought and care must go into selecting a suitable translation. This is especially true if there is likely to be only one translation available on Wikisource. However, one translation may not satisfy all needs, particularly for poetry and literature, as well as texts from pre-modern times. Wikisource is open to making as many published translations available as possible, if there are users willing to contribute them.

Multiple translations


Multiple published translations of source texts may be included on Wikisource, as appropriate per Wikisource:Versions and within the scope stated per Wikisource:What Wikisource includes. That is, some texts originally published in a language other than English have had more than one English translation published. Examples of well-known texts with such multiple translations include Anna Karenina, The Iliad, and the Bible. Wikisource may choose to host more than one translation, particularly when the original work is well-known, or when the translations themselves are well-known.

In cases where more than one translation may appear, the methodology, style, and goal of each translator should be clearly spelled out and summarized in the header notes of the first page. This information may also appear in a preface or introduction to the work.

For help relating multiple similar works see Help:Disambiguation.

Parallel texts


Please see Wikisource:Multilingual texts for guidelines on this topic.

Wikisource original translations


Wikisource aims to fill its library with peer-reviewed, edited content whenever possible; users are encouraged to find a free, previously-published version of every translation. However, Wikisource also allows users to create original translations and add them to the library. This allows for the translation of texts that have never before been translated into English and for new, complementary translations that may improve on existing versions in some way.

User-created translations performed on Wikisource fall into two groups:

  1. A full translation into English, by Wikisource contributors, of a work previously published in another language. These are accepted based on the criteria below.
  2. A translation of a single word or phrase, by a Wikisource contributor, within a mostly English work. These short translations are considered "annotations" rather than "translations" for purposes of policy, and therefore are governed by Wikisource:Annotations; they will not be discussed further here.

Translations which are the work of Wikisource contributors must be noted as such, and clearly distinguished from previously published translations. This is accomplished by applying both of the following:

A scan supported original language work must be present on the appropriate language wiki, where the original language version is complete at least as far as the English translation. An inter-wiki link to the original language work must be present on the English translation.

Works that are incomplete and abandoned for long periods may be nominated for deletion, following the process described in Wikisource:Deletion policy.

  1. As with a Wikipedia article, there is no requirement to show any level of competence in a subject or a language to participate in the translation
  2. These translations would not be considered published as distinct published editions of the work, they are simply a dynamic, available translation of the work

Multiple wiki translations


There should only be a single translation to English per original language work. All Wikisource translation are released under the same Terms of Use as any contribution to Wikimedia projects, and as such they are expected to develop based on consensus of contributors, with the same level accuracy, neutrality and reliability of a Wikipedia article.

Grandfather rule


Works existing & accepted prior to July 2013 (or after significant policy updates) which somehow no longer meet the new/current criteria for inclusion in moving forward - some degree of reasonable accommodation to keep & grandfather-in such works should be sought after first and foremost whenever possible.

Other considerations




Each translation should be placed into the category that identifies its original language. For example, Machiavelli's The Prince, is placed into Category:Works originally in Italian, as that is the language in which the work was originally written. Translations should also be placed into genre and topical categories as appropriate. Should the year category be that of the original, of the translation, or of both?

See also