The longer one translates, the more obvious it becomes that translation is a craft, like any other, which, like wine, matures and improves with age. What for many a novice translator is confusing and complicated may be second nature or not need a second thought for the experienced linguist.
This becomes especially apparent in translation training and, in particular, when one notes the cognitive and procedural problems faced by translator trainees in the learning and training process. Trainee translators often approach a text differently, they actually ‘see’ a text with seemingly different eyes.
The chief problem for translator trainees is the fact that they find it difficult to view a source text holistically. What is more, they are often not aware of the integral relationship between the semantic network of the original with that of the translation. They focus mainly on words and collocations not on ambience and function.
However, the facility to see a text differently, often possessed by up and coming trainee translators, is not always a bad thing. The ability to see a text anew is a valuable skill for all translators, young or old, novice or master – a fact a recent post emphasises.
The translator should, therefore, be able to view a text in several dimensions and at a variety of levels. In other words, every reading should be multi-dimensional. Rather like a satellite picture, the more angles available to the camera, the more detailed the picture.
To summarise, it may be useful for the translator trainee to focus on the ambience and function of a text. It may also be a good idea for the trainee to first read the original text whilst looking for elements of ambience and then a second time looking for functional elements (i.e. to whom is the text addressed and what purpose does it serve?).
Successive readings should focus on other elements – lexis, grammar, style – so that with each reading a new level of detail (and perhaps even ‘magnification’) is gleaned. In this way, the trainee translator regiments not only the procedural part of the process but inadvertently the cognitive part also.