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translatorplease specializes in the translation of scholarly and literary texts from German into English. An expert knowledge of German history and culture—grounded upon years of teaching, writing, and scholarship—informs every translation.

Elizabeth Janik, translator and owner of translatorplease


About me

My name is Elizabeth Janik, and I translate scholarly and literary texts from German into English. I particularly enjoy historical projects and the additional research they involve. A details-oriented enthusiasm for clear, elegant writing informs all of my work.

In 2012, I was named runner-up in the German Book Office’s first competition for aspiring German- English translators. I established translatorplease soon thereafter, and I’ve worked as an independent translator and writer ever since.

In 2020, I was named to the shortlist for the Helen and Kurt Wolff Translator’s Prize for my translation of Marie-Janine Calic’s The Great Cauldron (Harvard University Press, 2019).

I like to stay informed about the arts and culture in Germany today. If you do, too, please check out my online review of German culture in the English-language media,, or follow me on Bluesky.

I hold a Ph.D. in History and a M.A. in German and European Studies from Georgetown University, and my book, Recomposing German Music: Politics and Musical Tradition in Cold War Berlin, explores the tangled relationship between German music and politics during post-WWII reconstruction, Allied occupation, and the emerging division between east and west.

I live with my husband and two sons in Norfolk, Virginia. Since I’m often thinking (and translating) globally, I act locally whenever I can. I’m an advocate for public education, refugee resettlement, and racial justice in my community, and I’m a regular contributor to the Hampton Roads State of the Region Report, an annual publication of the Dragas Center for Economic Policy and Analysis at Old Dominion University.

Areas of expertise

I specialize in the translation of scholarly and literary texts from German into English, including:

  • Nonfiction manuscripts
  • Book proposals
  • Conference papers
  • Grant applications

I am well-versed in the idiosyncrasies of academia and scholarly publishing, and I enjoy working closely with authors, editors, and publishers to translate works of German scholarship into accurate, clear, and polished English. I’m a stickler for detail, and I work to ensure that all aspects of a text adhere to up-to-date scholarly practice and any other given specifications.

I understand that a well-rendered English translation is essential for attracting an international readership in many different fields. I take pride in crafting translations that not only meet the highest professional standards, but are also enjoyable to read.

I am a keen proofreader and editor of English texts, particularly those that have been translated or written by non-native speakers. I specialize in sharpening and refining academic texts so they will appeal to their intended audience and meet the expectations of U.S. publishers.

  • Proofreading entails checking for errors in spelling, grammar, punctuation, and other details.
  • Editing is a more time-intensive process; it includes proofreading, correcting style and content, proposing broader revisions, and (where appropriate) consulting a German source text to cross-check the reliability of a translation into English.

Nonfiction manuscripts

Conference papers


Book proposals

Grant applications



The Invention of Marxism: How an Idea Changed Everything

April 4, 2022

The Herero Genocide: War, Emotion, and Extreme Violence in Colonial Namibia

December 4, 2020

A Sad Fiasco: Colonial Concentration Camps in Southern Africa, 1900–1908

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Latest Blog Posts

Nine protagonists and an origin story

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Genocide in colonial Namibia

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A seemingly historic milestone occurred as my translation of Matthias Häussler’s The Herero Genocide: War, Emotion, and Extreme Violence in Colonial Namibia went to print last spring. More than a…
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Auf wiedersehen, Bundeskanzlerin Merkel

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I started in 2009, which seems like almost a lifetime ago. Back then I hadn’t yet thought seriously about becoming a translator, my now-teenage sons were preschoolers, and I…
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Keep the broken glass in the U.S. Capitol

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The insurrectionists who stormed the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021 wounded our constitutional democracy and threatened lives. They also damaged property: shattering glass, breaking furniture, smearing paint, blood, and…