Is Translation Merely Rewriting the Original Text?

November 17th, 2009
Translator is expected to carry the meaning intended by the author from one language to another. This is not as easy a task as it appears. Not all words in one language have a corresponding parallel word in another language. Secondly language is way of looking at the world. It reflects the values and the culture of the society. So ‘different language’ means ‘different ways’ of looking at the world reflecting different values and culture. It thus becomes much more than just rewriting the original text. Different cultures have their own ethical codes and symbols. What is ‘good’ and what is ‘bad’ may also change. A translator has dual task. One, to take the meaning from one language to another that means he has maintain equivalence between target text and the source text. Second, at the same time he has to keep the target text readable for that culture. This implies that he may have to change some phrases, symbols etc. that are synchronous with that particular culture. Translation is done under restraints of the patronage. This involves the political restraints, cultural restraints, ideological restraints and, economic restraints of the target culture. It is because the target text has to serve that particular literary, social or cultural system. Ideological constraints can become a major player. ‘What’ and ‘wrong’ is decided by the ideology only which may differ starkly. Ideology here does not point out at the political ideology but at the larger frame of conventions, faith, belief and ideas shaping our day to day life. A renowned scholar Bassnett (1980), argues to the extent that “translated texts are so far removed from the original that they need to be considered as independent products of literature.” The act of understanding the context is also very important. A word or a set of words carry their meaning only with regards to that particular context in which they are used otherwise equivalence will be lost. This involves a good understanding of not only the two languages but of the two cultures and their social political and economic systems. This understanding enables the translator to actually understand the source text.  This work definitely means a lot more than just rewriting. Translation is thence not just word to word rewriting from one language to another but a tedious task of cultural and ideological transportation of meaning.  This may demand distortion of the source text to accommodate it into the target text. It is argued that translators are far more than rewriters and exercise a lot of the power to influence society and literature, since translation has "far-reaching social effects". --- One Hour Translation is the world’s fastest professional translation service. One Hour Translation provides Fast, High Quality Expert Translation service on a 24/7 basis thanks to a community of over 8000 certified translators from all over the world.

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