George Steiner Wrote That The Translator Is The Mailman Of Human Thought And Sentiment. Examine Some Of The Difficulties Involved In Accurately Translating Works Of Literature.

1824 words - 7 pages

Translation according to Newmark (1988: 5) 'is rendering the meaning of a text into another language in the way that the author intended the text'. Thus it can be said that the translator is the mailman of human thought as he is delivering to us information and literature, that we otherwise may not have had access to.As a means of communication, translation is used for multilingual notices, for tourists, official documents, textbooks and instructions. It has been instrumental in transmitting culture, allowing us to sample their ideas, literature and ideologies, and perhaps even adapting to some of them. Translation has also preserved certain languages, (such as Latin), historical events, and classic works of literature (Chaucer, Shakespeare, and Homer) as well as permitting us to learn foreign languages.However accurately translating works of literature can accumulate a lot of problems. These include problems with language, such as interpreting grammar, punctuation, words, figurative language and irony, as well as problems with cultural (and sub-cultural)differences, such as dialect, idioms and cultural focus'. These are not the only problems that a translator encounters, there are, in fact, many more. However in this essay I am going to discuss some of the language and cultural complications that an interpretor has to overcome in order to achieve an good translation.Perhaps the primary concerns for a translator is firstly to understand what the original text is about and secondly to analyse it from a translators point of view. They have to determine its intention and the way it is written for the purpose of selecting a suitable translation method, which could be a literal translation, a free translation or a mixture of the two. They have to be on their guard to prevent themselves from interpreting the original text differently to its actual meaning and they need to be sure that they reach a certain degree of naturalism. For example, those who interpret the Bible need to be certain that their translation is well done, as any errors could see them being accused of blasphemy.The problems faced by translators are immense, especially in regards to language, as language is always changing. New words are constantly being coined as old words lapse. As Adamov wrote in his notebook for 1938; 'Words, those guardians of meaning, are not immortal, they are not invulnerable, some may survive, others are incurable.' (Steiner, G: 1975: 21) In fact, some do survive, however a lot disappear, and hear lies one of the problems for a translator. How can one translate a word that they have never heard of, or that they do not understand the meaning of? Another lies in the usage of nonsense words. Some writers such as Lewis Carroll, use words that they have made up themselves ( e.g. 'Slithy' - 'Jabberwocky'), here the problem is whether to translate the word literally, if possible, or to use a word that may help to preserve the meaning and mood of the work in question...

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