Reading is an excellent way to travel the world without physically leaving home. The books we read can take us to different places, teach us about other cultures and people, and sometimes, even change the way we see the world. However, books written in our own language only represent a small fraction of the literature available worldwide. Luckily, the growing trend of book translations makes it possible for people to read books written in other languages.

Connecting to Other Cultures Through Reading

Reading books from different cultures is an excellent way to learn about different beliefs, values, and ways of life. It encourages readers to think outside of their own experiences and consider alternative ways of living. Books written in lesser-known languages provide a unique and authentic perspective that readers cannot find in translated works of more popular languages. It allows readers to connect with cultures, people, and places they might never have otherwise learned about.

Lesser Known Languages to Look ForA young woman sits in the park on a sunny day while reading a book

There are thousands of languages spoken around the world, and each one has its own distinct literature. While some languages like English, Spanish, and Mandarin have a significant number of translated works available, there are many lesser-known languages that also offer valuable literary works. Some examples include:

  • Swahili: Spoken in several countries in East Africa, Swahili is the official language of Tanzania and the second most widely spoken language in Kenya. Books written in Swahili often highlight African culture, history, and traditions.
  • Icelandic: This Nordic language is spoken by fewer than 400,000 people worldwide. However, Iceland has a rich literary history, with many famous authors such as Halldór Laxness and Arnaldur Indriðason. Reading translated Icelandic books can provide readers with a glimpse into the country’s unique culture and folklore.
  • Kazakh: The official language of Kazakhstan, Kazakh is spoken by over 18 million people worldwide. Its literature dates back to ancient epic poems and includes modern works that explore themes such as nomadic life, Soviet history, and cultural identity.
  • Armenian: With a history dating back over 1,500 years, Armenian literature offers a rich and diverse collection of works. From ancient manuscripts to contemporary novels, books written in Armenian provide insight into the country’s culture, traditions, and history.
  • Quechua: This indigenous language is spoken in several South American countries, including Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador. Its literature reflects the customs and beliefs of Andean cultures and often explores themes such as nature, spirituality, and community.
  • Māori: The indigenous language of New Zealand, Māori has a strong oral storytelling tradition that has now been translated into written works. These books connect readers with the culture and traditions of the Māori people and offer unique perspectives on issues such as colonization and identity.
  • Uzbek: This Central Asian language has a long history of literature, with works dating back to the 9th century. Books written in Uzbek provide readers with an understanding of the country’s complex cultural heritage, including influences from Persian, Turkic, and Soviet cultures.
  • Yoruba: One of the most spoken languages in Nigeria, Yoruba has a rich tradition of storytelling and oral literature. Books written in Yoruba often explore themes such as family, community, and spiritual beliefs, providing readers with insight into the customs and traditions of this West African culture.

Preserving Language Through Literature

With the rise of globalization, many languages are at risk of becoming extinct. Translated books from lesser-known languages serve as a means of preserving these languages and their unique literary traditions. By translating books into more widely spoken languages, the works become accessible to a larger audience, thus increasing interest and awareness in the language and culture it represents.

Celebrating Diversity

Books written in lesser-known languages offer a diverse range of stories and perspectives, which can help break stereotypes and promote understanding among different cultures. Through reading books from other languages, readers can gain a deeper appreciation for the diversity of our world and recognize that there is no one “right” way to live.

Language Loss and the Future of Literature

Language loss is an unfortunate reality for many cultures today. When languages die, valuable literary works, traditions, and cultural knowledge disappear along with them. Encouraging translations of books written in lesser-known languages helps preserve their culture, history, and heritage. It also provides future generations the opportunity to learn about their ancestors and the traditions that make them who they are.

Learn More About the People Who Speak These Languages

Reading translated books is an excellent way to connect with people from different languages, cultures and traditions. Every language contains a unique history and story, and there is much to learn from the people who speak them. Translated books from lesser-known languages give readers insight into the experiences, perspectives, and struggles of people from around the world. It allows readers to connect with humanity on a level that would be impossible without translation.

Translations of Culturally Relevant Works

Works from lesser-known languages often receive less recognition; however, they contain significant cultural relevance. Through translations, the cultural relevance of these works can be shared with the world. From Japanese haikus to African folktales, translated literature from different cultures opens up vast possibilities for thought, discussion, and entertainment.

How to Find Translated Books From Different Linguistic Groups Around the World

Interest in translations of books written in lesser-known languages has encouraged greater publication of these works. Many publishers now stock translated books from a diverse range of languages. Leading bookstores now have sections for translations of lesser-known languages. Readers can also consider visiting independent bookstores. These stores stock books from independent publishers, and the works are often more niche and limited in distribution. Social media and online bibliophilic community networks are also good sources for discovering translated works.

Support Local Publishers and Authors With Your PurchasesA person sits with a blanket over their lap, reading a book and holding a cup of coffee

Asking for and purchasing translated works of lesser-known languages helps create a more diverse literary market. This, in turn, supports local publishers and authors. Supporting publishers and local authors of translated books ensure there is a commercial demand for them. More importantly, it helps preserve a diverse range of experiences and cultures that would otherwise remain unknown.

Discover Different Voices From Around the World

Translated works from lesser-known languages uniquely offer insights into different cultures and provide the opportunity for readers to be transported to new places that are not represented in mainstream literature. Encouraging translated works provides an opportunity to preserve literature and cultural knowledge that might otherwise vanish. Supporting local publishers and authors when purchasing translated works helps keep diverse voices in the literary canon. By reading translated works, readers can broaden their horizons and expand their intellectual worldview beyond their experiences. Overall, translated books from lesser-known languages provide unique perspectives and refreshing approaches to life for all readers who seek out new experiences.

Global Stories From Local Publishers

Dive into the rich tapestry of world literature with Clevo Books, your local bookstore in Cleveland, Ohio. Specializing in translated works from lesser-known languages, we invite you to explore the world through the eyes of different cultures, right from the comfort of your home. Come support local authors and publishers while broadening your horizons and enriching your library. Visit us today or browse our diverse selection online; let’s celebrate diversity and keep multiple voices alive in the literary world together. Clevo Books – your passport to global literature.

Clevo Books Circle Favicon

We would love to hear from you! If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact us.

530 Euclid Ave #45a Downtown Cleveland, OH 44115