I am a big fan of lists. To-do lists, grocery lists, travel lists and lists of things I like. Lists are also my favorite style when I’m writing blog posts. As translation is one of my favorite topics, anything about it is fascinating.
Below you will find some of my favorite quotes on translation that I have collected from translation blogs, forums and websites over the years. I hope you enjoy them as much I do and can add a few of your own!
Translation is the paradigm, the exemplar of all writing. It is translation that demonstrates most vividly the yearning for transformation that underlies every act involving speech, that supremely human gift.
There are few efforts more conducive to humility than that of the translator trying to communicate an incommunicable beauty. Yet, unless we do try, something unique and never surpassed will cease to exist except in the libraries of a few inquisitive books.
Translating poetry is like making jewelry. Every word counts, and each sparkles with so many facets. Translating prose is like sculpting: get the shape and the lines right, then polish the seams later.
To translate, one must have a style of his own, for otherwise the translation will have no rhythm or nuance, which come from the process of artistically thinking through and molding the sentences; they cannot be reconstituted by piecemeal imitation. The problem of translation is to retreat to a simpler tenor of one’s own style and creatively adjust this to one’s author.
Translators have to prove to themselves as to others that they are in control of what they do; that they do not just translate well because they have a “flair” for translation, but rather because, like other professionals, they have made a conscious effort to understand various aspects of their work.
All translation is a compromise – the effort to be literal and the effort to be idiomatic.
A translator is essentially a reader and we all read differently, except that a translator’s reading remains in unchanging print.
The word ‘translation’ comes, etymologically, from the Latin for ‘bearing across’. Having been borne across the world, we are translated men. It is normally supposed that something always gets lost in translation; I cling, obstinately to the notion that something can also be gained.
It is the task of the translator to release in his own language that pure language that is under the spell of another, to liberate the language imprisoned in a work in his re-creation of that work.
A satisfactory translation is not always possible, but a good translator is never satisfied with it. It can usually be improved.
So many people consider their work a daily punishment. Whereas I love my work as a translator. Translation is a journey over a sea from one shore to the other. Sometimes I think of myself as a smuggler: I cross the frontier of language with my booty of words, ideas, images, and metaphors.
There is no such thing as a perfect, ideal, or ‘correct’ translation. A translator is always trying to extend his knowledge and improve his means of expression; he is always pursuing facts and words.
Intrinsic to the concept of a translator’s fidelity to the effect and impact of the original is making the second version of the work as close to the first writer’s intention as possible. A good translator’s devotion to that goal is unwavering.
Translators are the shadow heroes of literature, the often forgotten instruments that make it possible for different cultures to talk to one another, who have enabled us to understand that we all, from every part of the world, live in one world.
Translation is not a matter of words only: it is a matter of making intelligible a whole culture.
Je ne crois pas que rien soit jamais intraduisible–ni d’ailleurs traduisible.
What is your favorite quote on translation that inspires you and makes you feel proud to be a translator? Share in the Comments below.