Translation Resources in CanadaWhat is a Translation?

Taken from Wikipedia

Translation is the interpreting of the meaning of a text and the subsequent production of an equivalent text, likewise called a “translation,” that communicates the same message in another language. The text to be translated is called the “source text,” and the language that it is to be translated into is called the “target language“; the final product is sometimes called the “target text.”

Translation must take into account constraints that include context, the rules of grammar of the two languages, their writing conventions, and their idioms. A common misconception is that there exists a simple word-for-word correspondence between any two languages, and that translation is a straightforward mechanical process; such a word-for-word translation, however, cannot take into account context, grammar, conventions, and idioms.

Translation is fraught with the potential for “spilling over” of idioms and usages from one language into the other, since both languages coexist within the translator’s mind. Such spilling-over easily produces linguistic hybrids such as “Franglais” (FrenchEnglish), “Spanglish” (SpanishEnglish), “Poglish” (PolishEnglish) and “Portuñol” (PortugueseSpanish).

On the other hand, inter-linguistic spillages have also served the useful purpose of importing calques and loanwords from a source language into a target language that had previously lacked a concept or a convenient expression for the concept. Translators and interpreters, professional as well as amateur, have thus played an important role in the evolution of languages and cultures.

The art of translation is as old as written literature. Parts of the Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh, among the oldest known literary works, have been found in translations into several Asiatic languages of the second millennium BCE. The Epic of Gilgamesh may have been read, in their own languages, by early authors of the Bible and of the Iliad.

With the advent of computers, attempts have been made to computerize or otherwise automate the translation of natural-language texts (machine translation) or to use computers as an aid to translation (computer-assisted translation).


What is Interpreting?

Taken from Wikipedia

Interpreting, or “interpretation,” is the intellectual activity that consists of facilitating oral or sign-language communication, either simultaneously or consecutively, between two or among three or more speakers who are not speaking, or signing, the same language.

The words “interpreting” and “interpretation” both can be used to refer to this activity; the word “interpreting” is commonly used in the profession and in the translation-studies field to avoid confusion with other meanings of the word “interpretation.”

Not all languages employ, as English does, two separate words to denote the activities of written and live-communication (oral or sign-language) translators. Even English does not always make the distinction, frequently using “translation” as a synonym of “interpretation”, especially in nontechnical usage.


Fidelity vs. Transparency

Taken from Wikipedia

Fidelity (or “faithfulness”) and transparency are two qualities that, for millennia, have been regarded as ideals to be striven for in translation, particularly literary translation. These two ideals are often at odds. Thus a 17th-century French critic coined the phrase, “les belles infidèles,” to suggest that translations, like women, could be either faithful or beautiful, but not both at the same time.

Fidelity pertains to the extent to which a translation accurately renders the meaning of the source text, without adding to or subtracting from it, without intensifying or weakening any part of the meaning, and otherwise without distorting it.

Transparency pertains to the extent to which a translation appears to a native speaker of the target language to have originally been written in that language, and conforms to the language’s grammatical, syntactic and idiomatic conventions.

A translation that meets the first criterion is said to be a “faithful translation”; a translation that meets the second criterion, an “idiomatic translation.” The two qualities are not necessarily mutually exclusive.

The criteria used to judge the faithfulness of a translation vary according to the subject, the precision of the original contents, the type, function and use of the text, its literary qualities, its social or historical context, and so forth.

The criteria for judging the transparency of a translation would appear more straightforward: an unidiomatic translation “sounds wrong,” and in the extreme case of word-for-word translations generated by many machine-translation systems, often results in patent nonsense with only a humorous value (see “round-trip translation“).

Nevertheless, in certain contexts a translator may consciously strive to produce a literal translation. Literary translators and translators of religious or historic texts often adhere as closely as possible to the source text. In doing so, they often deliberately stretch the boundaries of the target language to produce an unidiomatic text. Similarly, a literary translator may wish to adopt words or expressions from the source language in order to provide “local color” in the translation.

In recent decades, prominent advocates of such “non-transparent” translation have included the French scholar Antoine Berman, who identified twelve deforming tendencies inherent in most prose translations, and the American theorist Lawrence Venuti, who has called upon translators to apply “foreignizing” translation strategies instead of domesticating ones.

Many non-transparent-translation theories draw on concepts from German Romanticism, the most obvious influence on latter-day theories of “foreignization” being the German theologian and philosopher Friedrich Schleiermacher. In his seminal lecture “On the Different Methods of Translation” (1813) he distinguished between translation methods that move “the writer toward [the reader],” i.e., transparency, and those that move the “reader toward [the author],” i.e., an extreme fidelity to the foreignness of the source text. Schleiermacher clearly favored the latter approach. His preference was motivated, however, not so much by a desire to embrace the foreign, as by a nationalist desire to oppose France’s cultural domination and to promote German literature.

For the most part, current Western practices in translation are dominated by the concepts of “fidelity” and “transparency.” This has not always been the case. There have been periods, especially in pre-Classical Rome and in the 18th century, when many translators stepped beyond the bounds of translation proper into the realm of adaptation.

Adapted translation retains currency in some non-Western traditions. Thus the Indian epic, the Ramayana, appears in many versions in the various Indian languages, and the stories are different in each. If one considers the words used for translating into the Indian languages, whether those be Aryan or Dravidian languages, he is struck by the freedom that is granted to the translators. This may relate to a devotion to prophetic passages that strike a deep religious chord, or to a vocation to instruct unbelievers. Similar examples are to be found in medieval Christian literature, which adjusted the text to the customs and values of the audience.