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Poll: Which statement best describes translation?
Thread poster: Staff Staff
Local time: 07:34
May 30, 2008

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Which statement best describes translation?".

This poll was originally submitted by Charlie Smith

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Nina Khmielnitzky  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:34
Member (2004)
English to French
All of the above May 30, 2008

It's an art, etc. that is also what I do for a living.


Agnieszka Hayward
Local time: 16:34
German to Polish
+ ...
:-) May 30, 2008

Nina Khmielnitzky wrote:

All of the above

This is precisely the answer I miss in this pollicon_smile.gif


Ricardo Pereira  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:34
Member (2006)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Combination May 30, 2008

I also agree that it is a combination of all the options, and then some.



All of the above, yes ..... May 30, 2008

Yes it is all of the above +

This subject has been discussed many times before without decisive conclusion (which I doubt exists).
My promosional motto used to be "the one who knows the art and science of translation".

It is a craft if I understand "craft" being a "skill".
It is an art because it takes artistic writing talent to put words into the heart of target language.
It is science because it takes the science of linguistic logics and probability.
It is an "innate ability" because without it the job would lack quality. If you don't have this vital propensity, you soon be out of business.
And last but not lease, it is a job that needs to be done.

I am very surprise so few answered "it is a science" (so far).

[Edited at 2008-05-30 19:06]

[Edited at 2008-05-30 19:07]


Maria Castro  Identity Verified
Member (2008)
English to Portuguese
+ ...

all of the above May 30, 2008

all of the above, absolutely...
humbird summarises the reasons why very well and I totally agree with her.
I think this option should have been included in the poll.


Fernando D. Walker  Identity Verified

Local time: 12:34
English to Spanish
+ ...
One thing is missing May 30, 2008

I agree with most of the colleagues' comments, but I think that translation is also a profession.
Have a nice weekend,

[Edited at 2008-05-30 20:09]


Charlie Smith (X)  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 15:34
Greek to English
An interesting discussion… May 30, 2008

I’m sure this is a discussion that actually has no likelihood of ascertaining a definite answer, but I was curious as to what people had to say on the matter. Also I did not include the ‘all of the above’ option as I am interested not in a concrete definition (as has been already said translation is in fact a mixture) but more to which ‘processes’ your perception of what you do tends towards.

My answer would be: a craft (of course as I understand the term)

Translation is less like a science as nothing is absolute and there are rules but they are often flexible and sometimes totally wrong for a certain translation – also if it were more of a science machine translation would be a more effective practical process as opposed to a means to entertain translators with its hilarious outcomes. Art, as I see it, on the other hand is more of a free creative process and I feel the bind we have to remain close to the original distances translation from an art form. As for an innate ability, which is of course a factor, even those not disposed towards translation - which could be a description of those with no ‘innate ability’ - can be taught the principals, and trained in it and be able to produce a passable translation.

It is a creative process which is at the same time restricted in its creation by it utilitarianism, each translation we produce can be beautiful and even awe inspiring yet it is judged not only on its aesthetics but on its ability to perform it function, all of which lead me to think of it as a craft.


mediamatrix (X)
Local time: 12:34
Spanish to English
+ ...
Translation: A necessary evil in the global economy May 30, 2008

As one who is far happier earning money from the divulgation of his own thoughts rather than 'merely' expressing someone else's thoughts in a different language, I can find little in translation that merits the use of the qualifier 'best', as in 'best describes translation'.

Most of what I now translate was written by me anyway, so the source texts are well-nigh perfecticon_smile.gif . I very rarely have doubts as to what the author was trying to say in his source text - and if I do have doubts, then I simply rewrite my source text or delete the sentence altogether!

So, I have two 'other' replies:

- translation is a necessary evil in the global economy;
- translation is a doddle.

I used to have a T-shirt inscribed with the words: Art is dirty work - but somebody's got to do it! Much the same could be said for translation.



lorette  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:34
German to French
+ ...
A mix + other! May 31, 2008

It is a daily challengeicon_smile.gif

[Edited at 2008-05-31 09:00]


Local time: 16:34
Member (2007)
German to Dutch
+ ...
All of the above ! May 31, 2008

and more...


Ma. Fernanda Blesa  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:34
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Innate ability May 31, 2008

I fully agree with Charlie, translation is neither science nor art. For me, it's more of an innate ability, although I was a bit torn between innate ability and craft (just a bit thoughicon_smile.gif)


Juan Pablo Sánchez  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:34
English to Spanish
TRANSLATION IS... May 31, 2008

Translation is Science, a Skill, an Art and a matter of good Taste


neilmac  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:34
Spanish to English
+ ...
Depends May 31, 2008

on whether you understand the principles of utilitarianism ... or noticon_wink.gif


María Eugenia Wachtendorff  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:34
English to Spanish
+ ...
Mainly an Art May 31, 2008

A good translator needs to be a good writer, and writing is an articon_smile.gif

[Edited at 2008-05-31 19:37]

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