Translating literary Texts

October 11, 2016
Translating literary texts

We all know that a professional translator also has to be an excellent writer, considering that he or she has to make sure that the final text is easy to read, aside from maintaining the ideas that the source text is trying to convey.

We could, in fact, divide the translation process into different stages. The first thing is understanding and assimilating the text or the meaning you want to convey. Here the translator will need to understand the text in depth and detach himself from the specific words in order to give more meaning to the thoughts of the original author. Then, once this is achieved, the text must be reinterpreted and adapted to the target language.

Some translators prefer to specialize in texts dealing with more technical areas, given the inherent difficulties of literary translation when it comes to transmitting messages or the use of metaphors and other stylistic figures of language that are a constant in literature. Literary translation is very different from technical translation, which deals with manuals, instructions, reports, etc., material which in general is aimed at a specialized audience that focuses on this particular type of text. Therefore, the use of just the right vocabulary is extremely important in this case, and the aesthetics and style of the text are not as essential. Moreover, the translation of technical texts often requires that the translator have specific knowledge in a particular field.

On the other hand, when it comes to the translation of literary texts, such as novels or poems, it is necessary that the translator have more stylistic skills, a broader cultural knowledge and, in addition, be creative and imaginative. The great translators, regardless of their target language, will have to follow a very demanding course of study, such as literary studies and a university specialization in their mother tongue and/or the language(s) they will translate to. That is why it is very important that, once completed our formal training as professional translators, we choose what type of texts we will specialize in (literary, legal, technical, etc.) so that we will always feel comfortable and at ease with our final product. Godspeed!



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