Metaphorical Translation

The amount of metaphors used to describe translators and the work of translators is truly astounding. The old familiar comparisons of translation being like a mirror or being a copy of the original keep cropping up in various works concerning translators and translating. Much depends, of course, on our approach to translation – whether we focus on theory or practice.

Another previous blog entry – The Translation Process – attempted to look at a different way in which we can view translation, as a combination of perception and reaction. Some might add reflection also to these two.

In a recent article published in Gazeta Wyborcza the translator is described as a hunting dog. In the article, Martin Pollack details the translation process and highlights the research side of translation – something that is overlooked by many people. Translation requires, above all, a vast amount of experience on the part of the translator but also the ability to absorb and learn information at a speedy rate.

The question that could be posited here is which metaphors best describe translation to us all?

6 Responses to “Metaphorical Translation”

  1. Raf Says:

    I briefly had a look at the article and it reads well. My personal view (metaphor) is that translation is a shadow. It’s intrinsically part of the original but it’s always one step behind.

  2. Apple Man Says:

    Shadow is original but I like to think of translation as painting by numbers. You just fill in the details.

  3. Translating Lines « transubstantiation Says:

    […] Metaphorical Translation […]

  4. Agata Says:

    In my opinion the comparison to a hunting dog is a very accurate one. Many people often do not understand the complexity of the process of translation. Sometimes rendering involves a great deal of research. Obviously the Internet has made the life of translators much easier but still we have to be very patient and dogged to come to the core of meaning( especially in the case of culture-bound items). Additionally, a translator/interpreter must be able to learn a vast amount of information in a short time and have a very good memory.

  5. transubstantiation Says:

    The Internet allows the ‘hunting dog’ gather all available smells and sounds in one place, perhaps.

  6. Another Translation Metaphor « transubstantiation Says:

    […] on December 17, 2007 As we all know translation studies abounds in translation metaphors (see previous post). Comparisons with mirrors and shadows are frequent. Metaphors which talk about the invisibility of […]


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