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Who do you serve? The client or the author?
Thread poster: lien

lien
Netherlands
Local time: 21:43
English to French
+ ...
Nov 10, 2003

Tell me, who do you serve ? The client or the author ?

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Cristóbal del Río Faura  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 21:43
English to Spanish
+ ...
The Answer Nov 10, 2003

The client, of course. He pays my vices, reading among others.

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Roomy Naqvy  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 01:13
English to Hindi
+ ...
Answers Nov 10, 2003

Not necessarily serve the client [publisher] if you are translating a literary text. Don't forget the author.

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GoodWords  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 14:43
Spanish to English
+ ...
The message Nov 10, 2003

My loyalty is to the readership and the message, because the reason for translation is to communicate a message to the reader.

By this criterion you can judge whether to reproduce the faults of a less than perfect source text or to smooth them out.

Is the readership served by knowing that the author was not such a good writer? Probably yes, in the case of a literary translation; this is the basis of the sacred tradition of not improving a source text. Certainly yes, when the reason for having the text translated is to learn something about the author's writing ability. Probably not, if the purpose of the text is to communicate knowledge/information about the subject matter-- (a company's annual report, advertising copy, a scientific article, to name but a few examples).

The way you formulate the question assumes that the client is not the author. Sometimes the client is the author... but is still not a very good writer!

In any case, the reason the client (whether the author or someone else) wants a translation, is to convey the author's message to the target language readership (in the case of translation for information only, that readership may even be the client him/herself).

It depends on the nature of that message and the purpose of the text whether that message should include an implicit commentary on the author's writing ability, or not.

[Edited at 2003-11-10 16:23]


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giogi
Local time: 20:43
To be frank.... Nov 10, 2003

I've always served the author...and the client never complained.
According to my experience, a good translation (namely conveing the author's message)always satisfies the client.


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xxxMarc P  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:43
German to English
+ ...
The client Nov 10, 2003

A lawyer serves his client, speaks to the jury, respects the judge.

In the same way, a translator serves his client, speaks to his reader, respects the author.

Marc


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lien
Netherlands
Local time: 21:43
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Glad Nov 10, 2003

you see it this way. I am sorry for the little bit cryptic question, but this has been a debat on another list, and I was talking of course of literary translation.

It is about : when the author is a lousy writer, do you think that you can improve on the style, as a translator, in order to make a "better" book in order to make it more "sellable" ?

Maybe this is the old school, but I serve the author first, whatever he deserves, as I already said somewhere,the purpose of translation is to conveys the meaning while using the words he would have used, if he spoke the target language.


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Özden Arıkan  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 21:43
Member
English to Turkish
Myself Nov 11, 2003

by accomplishing to get the author's message across, to convey their style and meaning, to introduce one (more) of their work into another language, hence help a readership to get to know (better) an author, a new work, a new world, thereby contributing to my self-esteem, self-confidence, self-fulfilment in the professional sphere... as far as literary translation is concerned, being the context of this question.

As for lousy writers... hmmm.... serving myself best, would also be serving the author in that case: the readers who didn't have access to the original text would not find him lousy! But... this question needs a more in-depth consideration, I have to admit

[Edited at 2003-11-11 07:15]


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xxxPaul Roige
Spain
Local time: 21:43
English to Spanish
+ ...
The client, the author, the text, the target audience, yourself and your conscience Nov 11, 2003

Finding the way to please them all is what makes you a translator.
P

[Edited at 2003-11-11 10:04]


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sylver  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:43
English to French
Being a writer is such an easy thing now a day Nov 12, 2003

lien wrote:

you see it this way. I am sorry for the little bit cryptic question, but this has been a debat on another list, and I was talking of course of literary translation.

It is about : when the author is a lousy writer, do you think that you can improve on the style, as a translator, in order to make a "better" book in order to make it more "sellable" ?

Maybe this is the old school, but I serve the author first, whatever he deserves, as I already said somewhere,the purpose of translation is to conveys the meaning while using the words he would have used, if he spoke the target language.


We are talking about litterary translations, aren't we? Do you know how "easy" it is to get one of your books published, these days? Not to mention that a book has got to be quite a success before anyone decides to take a chance and get it translated.

Thoses circumstances cancel out the "lousy writer" theory. You may not like his style, but that doesn't make him a lousy writer, and some people must obviously like his style. In these circumstances, you would be better off refusing the job, IMO.

The only exception is when the author pays himself for the translation, at which point, I believe there is no question. (author=client)

I believe (and that seems also to be your opinion) that our job is to convey the communication of the source document. Whether I think I can do better or not is irrelevant. Our job is that of a messenger. You get a message, you deliver it as-is, or you refuse the job.


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lien
Netherlands
Local time: 21:43
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you Nov 12, 2003

sylver wrote:

I believe (and that seems also to be your opinion) that our job is to convey the communication of the source document. Whether I think I can do better or not is irrelevant. Our job is that of a messenger. You get a message, you deliver it as-is, or you refuse the job.


Thank you Sylver, it is exactly my opinion.


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Özden Arıkan  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 21:43
Member
English to Turkish
Theoretically Nov 13, 2003

this is the opinion of every one of us here (what sylver has expressed in his posting, I mean). I can hardly imagine anyone saying, "Well, I would try to make it sound better if it were a lousy text." However, are there instances that the translator is tempted to make improvements (maybe that's not the right word exactly, but I'm sure you'll get my meaning) in the original text, be it knowingly or unknowingly, for the sake of the author, of the target language/audience, for their own ego, whatever? What sort of controls should a translator have developed, assimilated, then, professionally? I am beginning to consider all these right now, since the second question lien has posed here. What do you think? Does literary translation require the acquisition of certain control mechanisms - just as in the task of a therapist, or staying away from certain authors, just as the same way a surgeon would not operate their own child, for instance? Am I overdoing it? What are your opinions on this? (And no, I'm not working on a medical translation at the moment... Why?)

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Hilary Davies Shelby
United States
Local time: 14:43
German to English
But.... Nov 17, 2003

surely your intent is to convey the author's message as clearly as possible. Obviously if the author's meaning is deliberately obscure, as in literary writing (maybe this is his/her style), you would go for equivalence of effect in the target language. If you were translating a really badly-written tourist brochure, you would surely make your version read better than the original, 1) out of sheer pride in your work and 2) to produce a good "product" for the client who is paying you. I certainly would - even if my author's metaphors were all over the place, mine certainly wouldnt be!

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Juanita Eskubi
Spanish to English
The author - who else Nov 20, 2003

I could never translate for a publisher only the author. Literary translation is as much a work of art as the original, otherwise we would have a pristine anaesthestised text with about as much emotion as having a shower

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Odette Grille  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 15:43
English to French
+ ...
I have had many emotions under a shower Nov 28, 2003

[quote]Juanita Eskubi wrote:

/ only the author.quote]

Impossible. Firstly, a good author means more than she or he suspects. A good translator is modest enough never to be sure she or he did not overlook something (unless there is a possibility to work directly with the author) Most publishers nowadays think about selling and prefer a bland text to an improved one (as someone else suggested and as the old school would have had it) besides who is the judge of the level of improvement ?
I am presently translating a British text into French for France but acceptable to Québec. The book contains harsh words and I am supposed to find softer equivalents, except that the sensitivity for words like fuck and shut up is very different in those two countries. And when I ask questions they reply : « international French » I know the French used to control an empire, but they certainly don't fuck and thank in the same way in Martinique, Québec, Mali and Indonesia, to name but a few...


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