I recently had an exciting opportunity to check out Interlinear Books! I gladly accepted on the basis that I could read one of their amazing new books. *Please note I am not affiliated with Interlinear Books in any way. This is an impartial review by a language learner for language learners designed to help you make a more informed decision before you make purchases.
So what are Interlinear Books all about?
In their own words…
“Interlinear are bilingual books that include the original and an English translation below in a smaller font. Interlinear gets you reading fascinating literature in foreign languages – subtitles for books“
In my eyes…
“I love foreign literature, but sometimes especially if you are new to a language having a dictionary to hand can be time consuming and the story can get lost in translation. This is were Interlinear Books step in. They have taken the term ‘reading between the lines’ literally providing classic books, but with the English translations in smaller print below should you require it.”
What does it cost?
Books can vary in price depending on length and complexity of the translation of the text. The books start from around $12.99 – $29.99. In addition to the paid books, there are also shorter free texts available from their library.
How I used it…
I read “The Colloquy of the Dogs“ by Miguel de Cervantes as part of my 10,000 words a day challenge. I was able to learn new vocabulary by reading interesting literature and did not have to spend time looking up words from a dictionary that I didn’t understand. This meant I didn’t lose the storyline.
What languages are on offer?
- Approximately 170 standard-book pages of text for “The Colloquy of the Dogs“
- Over 20 thousand translated words.
- The original text with aligned Interlinear translations – allows you to understand and learn Cervantes’ vocabulary.
- Printable/electronically readable PDF and EPUB files
- A link to download the audiobook!
In their own words Interlinear translations say that they attempt to translate words one by one and literally. However, there is an exception to this rule: where a literal translation would impair understanding. If it would, understanding is prioritized.
For example, the usual translation of the sentence above would be “Two thieves stole a very good horse in Antiquerra.” Yet, we have translated it completely literally, as we think that such a literal translation is still understandable, especially since the reader is supposed to have at least some prior knowledge of how Spanish works:
But try reading this translation if it were literal:
As you can see, in such cases, if translated literally, understanding would suffer. Thus we have chosen a more understandable translation:
In summary, we have made our translations to be literal, even if slightly clumsy. Unless such clumsiness hinders understanding, in which case we have opted for understanding.
Pros and Cons
- Save time on searching through a dictionary.
- Clear, well spaced and easy to read the text.
- Available in different electronic formats, i.e. PDF and EPUB.
- The translation is of high quality.
- Good classic books to choose from.
- Link to an audio version of the books.
- Limited selection of books at the moment, but I do not doubt that the product selection will continue to increase over time.
- The books are not for complete beginners as you are required to have a basic understanding of how your target language works.
- More electronic formats such as Kindle?
- Printing off the books could be costly for some.
- Currently only available as an eBook, it would be great to have printed books too!
- Lazy behaviors could develop due to the translations being directly below words in the target language! It’s easy to gaze down more often than necessary instead of using your own understanding of the vocabulary!
- For approximately 200 pages of an eBook $29.99 may seem a little pricey for some.
I felt that the products from Interlinear books are of very high quality and fantastic for A2 and above levels in languages. It isn’t suitable to learn languages on its own, but it makes an excellent addition to a language learning routine.