Academic Writing: "Nature of Translation" - Sample Essay

Many people think that any educated person who knows more than one language can translate and interpret. It is far from the truth. Only translators with good background knowledge, subject knowledge, social and cultural competence and, of course, advanced language skills will be always needed.

Translation is a process of conveying information with the help of linguistic and cultural knowledge. “The fact that we are able to produce equivalent in English for every word does not mean that we can give an adequate translation of the text. Translation implies that we have capacity to enter into the mind, the world, and the culture of the speakers or writers and we can express their thought in a manner that is not only parallel to the original, but also acceptable to the target language”. (A. Duff). While translating we need to be faithful to the original and try to fit into the context in the target language. It is not right to focus on the surface meaning only. Words, sounds and grammar are important, but the attention should also be paid to the ideas and concepts, so called deep meaning.
Trying to translate as well as possible, transformation shouldn’t be forgotten. The structure of the sentence is different in different languages, so the goal is to find the equivalent surface structure in two languages which correspond to the common deep meaning. Translation involves changing the form of the message from one language to the appropriate form in the second language without changing the deeper meaning (M.Larson).

Word for word translation is a result of a wish to be very close to the meaning in the source language, but it is no good. This kind of translation will definitely ruin the real deep meaning and even the surface structure in the target language. Adequate translation means a conceptual identity in both, the source and target languages.
Culture in translation plays the biggest and the most important role. It can help in communication and translation, but the lack of knowledge of it can be a great barrier.
Wierzbicka argues that we are “different people” not only because we speak different languages, but we think differently, feel differently and relate to other people differently (A. Wierzbicka).

The choices of how to translate should be made very carefully, it requires theoretical knowledge and an understanding of how choices in texts reflect other relationships between senders and receivers of the information. To be a good translator it is one of the most challenging tasks, as it requires switching safely between two universes of discourse.

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