Poetic Licence and Translation
Thread poster: Ritu Bhanot
| | Chiara_M
Local time: 17:04
French to Italian
| Translation is creation (with limitations) || May 31, 2005 |
It's quite an interesting thread.
The creative power (and freedom) depends on the source text, I think.
If I deal with a plain text I don't need to be creative in translation. On the other side, if I deal with a creative text, I must be creative, too.
If have to translate a novel abounding with inventions (just think of Queneau my favourite writer), and I'm not as creative as the author, my translation will be unfaithful. And the contrary is true, too. If I deal with an ordinary text, using common expressions, a creative translation will be unfaithful.
When I decided I wanted to be a translator it was beacause I thought (and I still think, indeed) that languages are living creatures. I love manipulating language and it is the translation aspect I love more.
A good translator should always be mindful of "limitations" and this awareness strongly depends on sensitivity and experience.
What it is important, and what makes a good translator, I think, is the ability to mould the target text to the source one (in contents, in style and in tone).
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| Inventiveness v. Laziness || May 31, 2005 |
This is an interesting question. It reminds me of something my father once told me regarding translations (he translated before becoming an attorney and later a judge): "One of the fun things about translating patents is that - once in a while - you get to create a new word."
I would like to note that his comment was very much directed at translating PATENTS, which often contain new ideas.
On the other hand, I think one should be wary when inventiveness is actually just an expression of laziness, i.e. the translator is too lazy to go looking for a term that is correct (or most fitting) and actually exists.
Personally, I think that inventing new words must remain the absolute exception to the rule, which is doing the necessary research into existing terminology.
[Edited at 2005-05-31 09:13]
| Poetic Tranlsations || May 31, 2005 |
It's quite interesting to know that we can actually create...
Does that imply that we can re-invent translations of words that that have equivalent in the Target Language? And what if it changes the meaning of the Text?
I have actually written a couple of books in the Source Language and I write in both Source and Target Language and am perfectly bilingual. Somehow those words seem to be strange... and as a native speaker of these languages I feel that these were just bad translations resulting from laziness.
And it was a Medical Text!!!
The Neologisms actually just changed the meaning of the original text!!!
"Symptoms of disease" (Source) became "Symptoms disease" (Target)
"Effective" (soruce) almost became "Non-governmental" (Target)
| Back translation has a limited mandate || May 31, 2005 |
Since this was a back translation, its purpose was to check how accurately the original translation has been done.
You should simply have translated it back the way it was given to you, poetic licence and all, and watched the fun, as the original client took the first translator, and the agency which hired him, to task.
As far as poetic licence in translation goes, it is a balancing act. Any translator's first priority should be communication, that is, the translated material should convey the correct meaning to the target audience. The second priority should be to the original, that is he/she should be as faithful to the original as possible, not only at the level of meaning, but also at the level of word choice, structure, idioms, images, etc. If the two languages are from the same cultural background, like Hindi and Gujarati, or French and English, this can be done to a large extent, but if the cultures involved are different, then this becomes very difficult, and that is where the poetic licence bit comes into play.
In your case, if the translator had coined words that don't exist in the language and had slipped up in matters of grammar and usage, then that is not poetic licence at all, I would call it ieptness on his part.
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