Article: The Translator: From prestige to invisibility, across centuries and cultures
Thread poster: Staff Staff
Local time: 17:17
Aug 16, 2010

This topic is for discussion of the translation article "The Translator: From prestige to invisibility, across centuries and cultures".


Allison Wright  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:17
German to English
+ ...
Thoroughly enjoyable! I shall be reading this again. Jan 31, 2011

Thank you for this well-rounded article, which I shall have to revisit for the sheer pleasure of it all.


Gennady Lapardin  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 03:17
Italian to Russian
+ ...
I couldn't recommend this article for serious reading Sep 15, 2012

Just one phrase: "The ninth and tenth centuries represented the Golden Age of translation in the Arab world, as witnessed by the unrivalled centres of culture in Cordoba in the West and Baghdad in the East."

This is the standard statement from the history handbooks of 60 or 50 years ago. Formally, it is correct as regards the Arab world only, but it is wrong when the researchers try to interpolate it over the whole Mediterranian/Medieval culture, as if there were no other centers of translation.

I sustain that the Arab and Jewish translators were mere imitators of Byzantine and West European monks-translators. Persistent referencing to the Cordoba school's commercial success proves only that the art of linguistic translation was highly valued at that time in both Western and Eastern courts.

As for the Arab translators, there is an anecdote that their "translation" of Aristotle wasn't other then the translation of Plotinus, great philosopher and theologian whose views were contrary to Aristotle's.


Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:17
English to Polish
+ ...
Thank you Jul 4, 2013

Thank you for the interesting article. The issue is close to my heart, and I care for it deeply.

The ethnocentric domestication you write about is not the end of the story, though. There is more to having to please the audience. It doesn't stop at nationality, culture, it includes also individual tastes, such as those of the clients, proofreaders, editors. Also, pour satisfaire les bourgeois, all sorts of perfectly all right grammar and syntax in the target language are streamlined into some kind of awful universalist 'plain language'. In fact, similar to the 'plain language' of some modern legal documents. Forget haute langue, forget expressive man-to-man talk. In fact, emphasis also is reduced, down to the standardest indicative that can be thought about. Just boring mainstream.

Additional, domestication is sometimes enforced without really having a clue about the culture really. The depth of study sometimes doesn't even approach reading the Wikipedia article and googling for a while.

Furthermore, I think this and the L1 rule (i.e. translators to translate only into native languages) are interconnected. Who cares about comprehension as long as it sounds cool and native. In fact, who cares about the quality of the target, either, as long as the translator could show the right passport.

This said, I'm a fervent supporter of the idea of just talking to the client about whichever approach is going to be taken. After all, this is really the client's decision unless the client specifically wishes to rely on our choice in the matter.

On the other hand, the masking of translation also has a different angle, not known in literary translation: the formatting hype. CATs have to sell, agencies and translators have to use additional services to sell basic services, and hence the mimicking of the exact look of the original document is a bit of an idol. That goes as far as copying not even logos but signatures from the source document and putting them on the target. Which is illegal, by the way.

[Edited at 2013-07-04 20:44 GMT]


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Article: The Translator: From prestige to invisibility, across centuries and cultures

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