Aya is a student from Japan. She loves to read all kinds of books. When Aya goes to the book store, she finds books written by writers from around the world. She loves Japanese writers like Shushaku Endo and Haruki Murakami. But she also enjoys many other writers - like Russian writer Leo Tolstoy and Scottish writer Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
Aya can only read in her native Japanese language. But she is able to read books that were originally written in many different languages. Aya never thinks about this. But, she can read these books because of the work of translators. This article is on the important work of book translation.
Books are a special form of communication. Writers write books to communicate ideas about things like love, faith, culture, and even politics. Books are a great way to exchange ideas between cultures. However, without translation, this exchange could never happen.
Most people do not think a lot about book translators. Their names are not well known like writers. But they do have a difficult and important job. Translators must be very good at understanding the books they translate. They must also be very good at writing.
A translator’s job is not just about translating each word in a sentence from one language to another. Translators must also concentrate on translating the writer’s original meaning. To do this, translators must think about groups of words or even pages of a book when they translate.
Translators must also think about the culture of the readers they are translating for. Often, ideas and even words are particular to one culture. So, translators must explain these cultural ideas. Sometimes, a translator can simply choose a different word to express a clearer translation of the writer’s meaning.
Let us look at an example. Translators have translated the book “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” into almost 70 different languages. German is one of these languages. The British English version of the book is called “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.” But the term “Philosopher’s Stone” does not translate well into German. The idea of a “Philosopher’s Stone” is an old idea. Over many years, the term has become a symbol of perfect knowledge. The term has been used in English stories throughout history. However, translators did not think that German speakers would know this term well. So, the German translator changed the name of the book to “Harry Potter and the Stone of Wisdom.” Wisdom is a form of knowledge. “Stone of Wisdom” is similar to “Philosopher’s Stone.” The words do not mean exactly the same thing. But, in German, “Stone of Wisdom” does express the idea of the term “Philosopher’s Stone.”
Changing a book’s title is a major decision. However, translators make hundreds of small changes with every single book. These changes make the meaning clear. However, translators must be careful. Too many changes can change the style of the writing. A book’s style is often what makes it interesting or easy to read. So, it is important that the translator writes the same way as the writer.
A good translation will be balanced. It will clearly communicate the writer’s ideas to a new culture. But, it will also represent the writer’s style. A bad translation does not capture the full meaning of words. And it does not make the reader feel the things the writer wants them to feel. A bad translation can completely change how people react to a book or an idea. Tim Parks is a writer in the United Kingdom. He wrote this in the Guardian newspaper:
“If the translator is bad…, you will understand the ideas, but not the style of the writer. Or the writing will represent the writer’s style, but will miss the ideas. The good translator is the one who has a deep understanding of the original writing and the best resources in his own language. This translator will bring style and ideas together. This will be something new that is also faithful to the original writing.”
Becoming a good translator can take many years. Edith Grossman has been a translator for over 40 years. She recently wrote a book called “Why Translation Matters.” In it, she wrote,
“As a first step toward creating a good translation, translators need to develop a good sense of style in both languages. They must expand their knowledge of the emotional effect of words. They must know the society that surrounds the words, and...they must know the atmosphere the words create.”
Translation has always been important for exchanging ideas between cultures. However, in the past, it was often difficult for writers to get their books translated. Large publishing companies were not interested in translating most books. Translation was expensive. It required difficult research. And communication between foreign writers and publishing companies could be difficult. As a result, only the best-selling books were translated to other languages.
However, today, people from different cultures are communicating and sharing ideas more than ever before. This growing globalization has made translation even more important. And it is changing the publishing and translation markets.
Now, it is easier for readers and publishing companies to learn about popular books written in other languages. Readers are requesting translations of the books they want to read. And large publishing companies are beginning to do more translation.
It has also become easier for foreign writers to communicate directly with smaller publishing companies in other countries. Some smaller publishing companies concentrate on only translating and publishing foreign works. These smaller companies are better able to serve the foreign writer.
As the global publishing market changes, there is a greater demand for good translators. However, most people will still never know the names of even the most expert translators. But translator, Daniel Hahn, believes that this is a good thing. On the website, wordswithoutborders.org, he wrote:
“As translators, our job is to be as unseen as possible. The reader should not notice we are there at all. The reader should reach the end of the book and think, ‘Wait, I do not speak Portuguese! How did that happen?’ It is the highest honour when our work is not noticed.”
See more at: http://spotlightenglish.com/listen/the-importance-of-translation#sthash....
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