The age old problem.
Should the translator focus on being as faithful to the original as possible or should his/her job be to make the translation as comprehensible as possible? The translator’s path, which might be elegantly rendered into Japanese as 訳道 (yákù-dō), is a difficult route fraught with danger but at the same time littered with gleaming jewels and precious stones. The path is narrow and is often bisected by what appear to be easier, more well-trodden roads. Sometimes other routes run parallel to our path but we must always stay true and keep on our path. The glittering jewels we sometimes find are priceless gems that need to be collected and cherished but more often than not they are cheap baubles that may seem beautiful at first glance but are of little worth and merely spoil the view.
The yákù-dō is not easy. Most of the time the way is hard to spot, is overgrown or littered with debris and only the more experienced travellers will be able to find the correct path. Initiates and novices of yákù-dō are taught to find the path using a variety of methods and tools so that in later life the yákù-dō master is able even to find his/her way blindfolded. Yákù-dō requires many years of training, dedication and learning and no one ever attains perfection.
Experience is crucial. Only with experience can the translator be sure that he/she has the correct balance, the yin-yang harmony of translation that is fidelity-intelligibility. Only then can the decision be made, depending on each text, which way the balance should be tipped – towards faithfulness or comprehensibility.