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 the translator or the translation as a reflection of the original can be found in most academic material on the subject.
It it time translators and translation scholars began to approach their subject form a different perspective. Many experts believe that there can only be evolution through revolution and so it may be appropriate to suggest some alternate metaphors which will allow us to think again and look again at this subject of ours. One alternate suggestion (see previous post) has already been put forward. However, there can never been enough suggestions and ideas.
An interesting suggestion which has crept into the literature several times is the idea that translation is a thoroughly alien beast roaming around in a native country. In fact, the idea has also been put forward that the translated text itself is a resurrected ‘native’ creature in an alien body. Taken further we might say that the translation contains (or should contain) a native (text) heart but is enveloped by an alien body.
The idea can be both grotesque and thoroughly off-putting. But that, in essence, is what translators do. They perform linguistic neuro-surgery attempting to re-animate a creature that is not entirely suited to life in a new environment. The linguistic neuro-surgeon needs also to ensure that the new beast not only ‘looks’ like a native but ‘feels’ like a native. Not an easy task.