Reflections on translation as a response to “Translator, Traitor” by Rosalind Moran (@ACTWriters)


Theoretically speaking, anything and everything can be properly translated, as long as a translator is capable and willing to put in enough time and effort to transform a well-told story in the source language to a well-told story in the target language. Here the word “proper” may be defined as being faithful to the original text while making the translation a fluent and graceful read. In other words, a translation should remain true to its source text while reads like a well-written text in its own right, as if it is composed in the target language in the first place.

For monolingual readers, to judge whether a translation is done well is to ask themselves whether their reading experience is enjoyable. However, those who are bi- or multilingual and who have translated at least one full-length book would appreciate the difficulty of questioning how “properly” a translation can be done. Also worth noting is the role of the editor, who in the great majority of cases is the one who gets to decide whether a translation is “good” enough, purely for the purpose of satisfying the readers. While a translator should always remain faithful to the source text, an editor is more like a PR manager who needs to take into consideration such issues as relevance, marketability and political correctness. Hence it is not uncommon that a translation is modified in ways that an editor deems to be appropriate.

— Reflections on translation as a response to “Translator, Traitor” by Rosalind Moran via Capital Letters, blog for the ACT Writers Centre.


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