word about translations...
people tend to think of translating as an obscure activity that is actually
very simple so long as the translator happens to know both languages. Some
people even believe that all it takes for a workable translation is a dictionary
of languages A and B and some basic high school knowledge of the language
they are translating from. In any case, translating is often regarded as
a necessary evil with little actual significance attached.
all those people, let me ask you this: Have you ever worked in a large
organization, where you had to rely on people to pass on pieces of information
by word of mouth? If the information went through more than three individuals,
most likely you will have noticed that what the guy at the end heard was
hardly the same thing you told the guy who was supposed to pass it on.
What happened? Well, everyone along the line "translated" your message.
Since the message is passed on by word of mouth, this means that everyone
along the line puts in their own words. This is in fact a form of translating:
Information received in a set of words is abstracted to the actions, items,
requests etc. that the recipient of the message thinks this informtion
means. In passing it on, he translates these abstract concepts back into language. Doing this over and again within one and the same language will inevitably result in a loss or alteration of the information that was passed on. The only way to prevent this is by exercising extreme discipline, learning a text by heart, or passing the information on in writing.
translating is very much like passing on information by word of mouth.
Obviously, the information cannot be passed on as is in writing, because
the whole point of translating is that the information is not written in
the language the intended recipient of said information understands. The
translator has to abstract the information found in the source text
- the text that he is given as an original. The translator must then put
this abstract information into another language - the target
doing so, the translator must pay attention to grammar and spelling, differences
in sentence structure between languages, recognize idioms and connotations
in the source text and find the appropriate equivalent in the target language,
in short he must transscribe the meaning of the original text. Looking
up words in dictionaries does not suffice to accomplish this task. A simple
example may illustrate this well enough:
visitors to this site will know the anecdote of the German commander who
tried to bluff by sending the commander of an American unit in mainland
France a note during the Battle of the Bulge. The German commander stated
that the Americans were surrounded and told them to surrender. Alas, the
American commander replied in one word: "Nuts". The Germans checked their
dictionary and found, well "nuts". They did not recognize the connotation
of this word and that the American commander had not fallen for their ruse.
You will see now, that translating is quite a challenge. It takes a lot of discipline and intimate knowledge of both the source and target languages.
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