Category - Career Guide|Posted by : Language Services Bureau


Translation – creativity in language?

What is art? What qualifies as art? Movies, music, dance, pottery? Yes, of course. We watch movies from time to time, we enjoy listening to different genres of music, we write poems, we dance; least to say, we’re surrounded by art. Talking about translation, would you consider it a form of art? Most of the professional translators would say ‘yes’. How creative does a translator actually need to be? ‘Extremely creative’ is what almost every translator would say.

The process of translation and getting a hang of it takes years of experience. The profession demands a lot of time, energy and sitting in front of a screen. It requires a lot of practice, consistency and again, more practice. When translating a document, the translator is interpreting a message from one language and then presenting it to the concerned party in another language. One must deal with different cultures, ethnicities, backgrounds, etc. and while doing so, a translator also needs to add a layer of “cultural sensitivity”, where needed. This, naturally, invites a lot of subjectivity. Just as no two people perceive the world in the same manner, no two translators can interpret the document in a similar manner. This is where we get to see the creativity of every translator first hand. For example,does ‘Requirement is met’ and ‘Requirement is fulfilled’ mean the same?

A lot of things need to be taken care of while translating the document. The basics being: the terminology used, syntax, grammar (the technicalities). Other than that, the not so technical things also play a key role while translating. The document, even though it is being translated from and into two different languages that have nothing to do with each other, must sound authentic.It should look original, as if it weren’t a translation at all. One important thing to remember is that, in order to adapt the ideas and nuances, one must understand the exact purpose of the translation.

Translating something is a creative process and the more we understand the author’sintended words, what they really want to say, the easier it is to paint the picture in the target language. But it still requires an enormous amount of creativity because some things just don’t translate. To answer my own question, translators are creative linguists and each translation is their artwork!

Let us know what you think – do you agree?

Written by: Shruti Gaikwad
Edited by: Devaki Kunte

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