Translation voice

Finding Your Translation Voice: A Quick Thought

Every translator has his or her own translation voice.

Don’t believe me? Next time you get a chance, head over to your local library and check out a classic novel in a foreign language that has been translated into English by two different authors. Are the translations the same?

What about the Bible? How many different translations of the Bible are out there? There are a ton and each one has a unique flavor and feel to it. This is what I mean by translation voice.

A lot of translation clients might be surprised to hear this because most people incorrectly assume that there is one and only one way to translate between two languages but this is never, ever, ever the case.

And as much as translators try to claim that translation is a science, it is most definitely not. Translation is very subjective and will change depending on who is doing the work.

Finding Your Translation Voice

The first thing to realize is that each of us has our own way we approach translations and we each bring with us a completely different set of experiences and ideas which will affect our translation in the end.

But it’s important to realize that just because we translators will translate things differently does not necessarily make one more “right” or more “wrong” than any other translation. Just different.

[However, a translation can be bad of course. I’m not talking about bad translations here. I’m talking specifically about translations that are different.]

Once we recognize that we have our own voice, we need to try and minimize the affect that voice has on the finished product. We shouldn’t sacrifice the integrity of the translation just because our translation voice comes through in the translation. We should instead use our experiences to help us come up with the best translation possible.

Using it to Your Advantage

In essence, a translation is an interpretation of the text by the translator and when your ideas and previous experiences can lend a hand to helping you interpret the text the way the author intended, you should use it.

The key to using that inner voice to help you translate is to constantly make sure our translation is a correct reflection of the original intention of the author.

What do you think? Do translators have their own voice when they translate? Let me know below!


P.S. I’ve written a book.

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