Like an excuse…

Translation is – as we all know – interpretation. Another way of putting it might be: translation is explanation. When we translate a text all we’re really doing is explaining to the reader what the author had in mind, or at least, what we think he or she had in mind. I like to think of it like a husband explaining to his wife why he’s got lipstick on his collar after coming back from work ridiculously late and slightly drunk. The odds are firmly set against the husband. He doesn’t stand a cat in hell’s chance of getting away with this one, but bizarrely he manages to explain to his wife that not only is he not drunk, but the shirt he’s wearing does not actually belong to him but was borrowed from a colleague of his who was saying goodbye to his loving wife. The husband’s shirt happened to become soiled – when helping an old granny change her spare tyre in the work car park. If you can make it work translation is a highly creative and unbelievably tricky thing. Good fun, also.


2 thoughts on “Like an excuse…

  1. I like the idea that translation is explanation because it highlights the fact that translator is the one who needs to fully understand the text s/he is to translate in order to translate it correctly. To explain(translate) well, we also need to know the person(audience) to whom we are explaining, to make our explanation understood and convincing for this particular person.

    It seems that translation can be compared to many things, completely unconnected with translation. I like such various comparisons because each time I see something like this, I see the translation from slightly different perspective, I notice things that I previously ignored or omitted…

  2. The metaphors that surround translation are legion. We often talk about mirrors, reflections, etc. However, it is interesting for the translator or interpreter to consider translation as more than just a #reflection#, look for different ways to view the translation process. The idea that translation is explanation also adds to the process a sense of guilt which often accompanies translators.

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