1. Charisma
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    Charisma Transposon Contributor

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    Q1. Reviewing a piece on basis of translation

    Discussion in 'The Art of Critique' started by Charisma, Oct 1, 2007.

    I got this question in my mind after thinking about the English translated version of the Bengali novel 'Anandamath' by Bamkim Chatter jii. I read a lenghty review sort of thing about it, evaluating the language of the novel, whether it fully expresses as it did in Bengali, interpretation and so on. I don't know if it is much of a question, but if we know or at least are pretty good in two languages, and we come up with a task of translation, which point should be kept in mind? Is it alright to dismiss words and phrases such as 'apa' , 'jii' and 'jaan' (sister, denotion of respect and dear respectively) in the writing? Is this more of a review or a critical appreciation? Thanks.
     
  2. Funny Bunny
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    Funny Bunny Contributing Member

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    It depends on the subtlety and degree of its use. Some writers are very particular about what their characters say and what they write. I think a translator should get to know the writer's body of work, finding the personal particularities of the writer's style, vocabulary, thought patterns and simply "choices."

    Like a work of fine art, translations of literary novels should try to be as true to the author's intent as possible. Understanding that languages are different in their emphasis. So I think that the ultimate guide should be in a majority consensus regarding what that author would do if he had translated his own work. So, I suppose when reading it, I suppose you have to trust the translator, to a point. Often there are "better" translations, and sometimes ones you as a reader might prefer.

    (I am not a translator, so this is only an opinion)
     
  3. Nealo d
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    Nealo d Member

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    This may seem overly obvious, but my feeling is that a translator should be looking more at sentences than at words. In translating from any language to any other, there are words and phrases that have no equivalency. It is therefore essential to try, as closely as possible, to translate the over-all sense of a phrase, sentence or paragraph, without getting too bogged down in the word-for-word translation.

    Of course, this is not perfect- something will be lost in any translation. It is to be hoped though, that less will be lost in a sensitive translation of the meaning and spirit of a piece than will be in any attempt at the literal.

    Here's an example.

    Un vida con miedas es como una vida a media.

    Literally- A life with fears is like a life in half. Doesn't make a lot of sense to the english ear.
    How about- A life of fear is like half a life. Close to the literal translation, but lacking the rhythym, the poetry of the original.

    I prefer "a life lived in fear is a life half-lived". It is farther from the literal translation, but close to the original spirit, and that, in a far from perfect world, is probably the best we can do.
     
  4. ScaryPen
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    ScaryPen Active Member

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    I have a doubt here. When reviewing a translated work, how do you deal with it if it changes the original because of translation but is a good piece in itself?
     
  5. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Any review of a translated work has to address two issues:

    1. How accurately does it convey the original author's meaning?
    2. How faithfully does it preserves the original author's tone and style?
    3. Is the resultant work grammattically correct?

    The translation should not reflect the translator's viewpoint or style. That is not the purpose of translation. If the translator wishes to display his or her writing style, the translator should write an original work.

    The source language and the result language will each have characteristics that interfere with both of these goals. For example, if one refers to a meal as "hot" in English, would you refer to it as "caliente" (high in temperature) or "picante" (spicy) in Spanish? The original context may not be sufficiently clear, or may even have been deliberately ambiguous.

    And if the author's style uses alliteration, that will likely be lost in translation. Do you choose imprecise words to preserve the alliteration, or do you stick to the literal accuracy and forego the artistic beauty? What about double meanings? If the author uses double meanings of a word in one language for the symbolic connection, how can you preserve that element if the result language does not have a word that carries the same double meaning?

    You also need to be careful about accidentally introducing double meanings. The Chevy Nova did not make a very positive impression in Spanish-speaking countries. Although Nova comes from Latin and means "new", suggesting innovation, in Spanish "no va" means "it does not go"!

    The third point is simple SPAG in the result language. We have all seen, and laughed at, horribly translated instructions on products produced in other countries, when the translators did not know the result language well enough to write a complete sentence in it.

    These are the issues that most impact translation of a creative work between languages. These are the issues that you should focus on when reviewing the translation.
     
  6. Charisma
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    Charisma Transposon Contributor

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    Thanks for your opinions, everyone.
     

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