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Yiddish Translation

Michael Wex's Yiddish translation has been called “the finest around”, and he’s got the résumé to prove it. From Mendele Moykher Sforim’s The Wishing Ring to Sholem Aleykhem (Classic Yiddish Stories), Itsik Manger, testimony for projected war crimes trials and countless family documents, letters, and unpublished autobiographies, there’s virtually no area of the language in which he isn’t experienced.

mamaloshenThis is only half the story, though. Wex is also an accomplished translator into Yiddish. He has done the only such translation of The Threepenny Opera authorized by the authors’ estates, and has also translated songs by such artists as Holly Near, Gloria Gaynor, Irving Berlin, Harold Arlen, Bob Dylan and scores of others. His uncredited work lies at the heart of Mandy Patinkin’s Mamaloshen CD.

Wex's rates are in line with his experience and the quality of his work. If you knew how much time he spends correcting other translations you'd understand why his prices might seem high: you're only paying once. And think about it: an hour to read, translate, type and proof 600 words of Yiddish at $0.25 a word amounts to $75 an hour. Legal aid costs more, at least up here in Canada, and if you think a lawyer's better trained than Wex you're looking at the wrong translator.

Yiddish to English

  • Typed or printed material, 1-50 pages: $0.25 a word with a $100 minimum charge.
  • Typed or printed material, over 500 pages: to be negotiated.
  • Handwritten material: $200 per hour. Rates for multiple pages to be negotiated.

English to Yiddish

For the sake of your bank account, not to mention the minds of your audience, stop and think: Do you really need this? Will converting something from a language spoken by almost all of your audience into something spoken by almost none of your audience add something to the work in question? If it will - mazl tov.

The work will be done on an hourly basis, starting at $250 per hour. Rates for longer pieces are negotiable.

Click here to read the New York Times blog entry for the panel discussion Wex took part in about the future of Yiddish at the Museum of the City of New York.

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