Thursday, February 05, 2009

Meaning-Based Translation

if you're like me and you enjoy translation, you may want to check out today's post by Mike Ely on Kasama blog... i thought in particular the discussion of words like "fuck", "con", and "motherfucker" was worth having, though it could of course be taken further...

1 comment:

  1. Yeah, this is an important subject that can lead to a lot of confusion. In the past, I was of the litteral translation school because I feared betraying what I was translating. Sometime it was becoming ridiculous because I was just puting french word over an english structure and it read akward.

    Then I came accross a trully bad translation of a Bookchin interview for an Ecosociété book. The translator, with no root in or knowledge of the anarchist movement, have translated leader as dirigeant. So we had a long discussion by Bookching about how anarchist needed to recognise the objective and almost natural existence of dirigeant and how we should favor the developement of dirigeant and so on. Oups! Then I read an older translation of the same text where the translator --an anarchist-- had just left the english word as is (i.e. leader). Let me tell you that it have a complete different reading!!!

    Now, I have come to the conclusion that what most folks call translation is just the first step of the job. First you put french words. Then, you need to completely re-write the text in french. That the second part, the most important one.

    Thats why these days I use more and more electronic translation as a tool. I do a first job with google. Then i just re-write the whole thing so it read just like it was actually written in french.