Wednesday, 22 May 2013

What does it take to turn in a great translation?

A few ideas on this subject, in no particular order.

Osmosis and symbiosis, living with the text and living the text.

Putting oneself in the place of the author.

Putting oneself in the place of the reader.

Having good dictionaries.

Knowing the subject (in both source and target).

Having some idea of what the author wishes to achieve.

Reading and rereading your translation several times before you even think of sending it to a client.

Really knowing your source and target language. In my own case I lived and worked in France for 20 years and besides being of English mother tongue have now lived in England for the last 15 years, etc.

Research, research and research (never give up on a term until you are positive it is the right one)

Negotiating proper deadlines. A rushed translation is often a bad one (unless it is run of the mill stuff).

Don't be afraid to ask (the agency, the client, whoever) if you are not sure.

I am sure you could add many more things that make a good translation. Let me know your thoughts.

Five Simple Maxims

I couldn't resist this extract from a letter by R. Beske from Seattle in yesterday's Financial Times.

On information (following an article by Michael Skapinker ' Companies need to cut through big data hype'), Beske writes these five maxims:

-The information you have is not what you want.

-The information you want is not what you need.

-The information you need is not what you can obtain.

-The information you can obtain costs more than you want to pay.

-What you are willing to pay will get you exactly the information you already have.

I think these sage aphorisms apply to many walks of life, and no doubt to our efforts in translation.