Off topic: Off-topic. Translation Blues.. Are you also afflicted?
Thread poster: maria pelufo

maria pelufo  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:23
English to Spanish
+ ...
May 25, 2010

Sometimes the pain of not being able to translate something properly is almost physical... It happens most of the time with funny things or with poetry.

No matter how much we try, and how good our work is, the original poem, the original song, and the original joke, often just aren't as wonderful once translated....

I lived in different countries throughout my life, and I think in different languages for different purposes (one is my language for love, another for jokes, another...), and often I am talking to a friend, and there is this song that just illustrates so perfectly what we are talking about, that just captures the right feeling....

So I start telling him about it, and I translate as I go... and the only thing that gets transmitted is my enthusiasm. Because I certainly did not manage to transfer the same poetry (to begin with, one rarely manages to keep the rhyme!). It makes me so sad. I wanted to share with him that particular author because I think he is just wonderful!icon_frown.gif

On the flip side of that story, of course I guess this is what motivates us to become better translators, and makes the profession interesting. This passion to transfer the magic from one language to another... Or if all fails, to learn and teach new languages!icon_biggrin.gif

Anyway... Let's stop moaning and go back to my software strings, while I listen to Sabina's songs, and just accept that I cannot *really* translate:

"Peor para el sol que se mete a las siete
en la cuna del mar a roncar,
mientras un servidor
le levanta la falda a la luna." icon_biggrin.gif

Thanks for letting me share...



Iris Shalev  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:23
English to Dutch
+ ...
I know... May 25, 2010

I remember learning at uni that there was a school of thought saying that 'translation is impossible'. That is of course a bit exaggerated icon_smile.gif but there are moments when I think it sometimes really is impossible...


Suzan Hamer  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:23
+ ...
"Translation may be impossible,... May 25, 2010

Iris Shalev wrote:

I remember learning at uni that there was a school of thought saying that 'translation is impossible'.

... but this does not make it the less necessary."


Iris Shalev  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:23
English to Dutch
+ ...
:) May 26, 2010

Although it's impossible, we're all doing it anyway! Slightly surreal! icon_smile.gif


Brian Young  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:23
Danish to English
Translation? May 26, 2010

I think we would all agree that translation of the usual stuff; business reports, legal documents, birth certificates, contracts, technical manuals, medical texts, etc, can be done well and accurately.
But prose, and in particular poetry, pose other challenges.
I would divide poetry into two groups: free verse, and poetry that rhymes.
They both share a common problem, in that even in the original language they are a form of translation themselves. A poet has an idea or feeling, and tries to put it into words. The poet is not always satisfied with the result, realizing that he/she is, in a manner, hurling waxen bullets into a fire of emotion.
So first we have to understand him/her, and then try to translate as well as we can.
For rhymed verse the challenge is enormous, and probably, at times, close to impossible.
I have translated a great deal of poetry- free verse-, but very little rhymed verse. That, I think, is when the need to do extensive "re-writing" is necessary.
But we should never give up. This the ultimate challenge for translators.


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