sábado, abril 16, 2005

Audiovisual translation

It's been almost a year working on it... time flies!! At the beginning it's scary and you decide to translate everything, squeezing your brains out to come across the shortest words. Well, that doesn't work. I was surprised when my boss told me it didn't matter what I translated, she wanted me to make it make sense, even if it wans't on the script. We talk about this relentlessly during the four years at university and, obviously, everybody has his own opinion. There are some who think that the translator has to be "invisible". Some others say that you have to "see" the translator. Which one of the two is possible? Well, I'd say the second one is easier, but maybe only applied to literary translation.
Based on my limited experience, after one year applying theoretical knowledge to practice, it becomes clearer and clearer that a translator should only obey two rules: document yourself and use your common sense. I know, I know, it's easier said that done, but it's only until you get used to it.
Even though, I don't think the "visibility" of the translator should be allowed in any case because we, as much as we regret it, don't create, we reproduce someone else's genius. If that makes us look brighter because it seems we said it, fine, but that's all. Recently, I read an interview to the translators of the last Tom Wolfe's novel, and they ask them how can you avoid translator's visibility when you have to make up a whole new vocabulary, when you have to create a new way of writing in your own language. Well, in my opinion, a good translator, the real good one, is invisible within that inevitable visibility.
It bothers me when I read a translated book and you can tell what it said on the original. I know I say that because I'm a translator, but I can't help it. Anyway, sometimes, when I read something somebody recommended (and that's because they read it first, of course), some stuff sounds "funny". In some way, that's a way of "seeing" the translator. The worse comes when you ask the person who recommended the book what they think about the translation and they answer "How would I know? I'm not a translator!" What does it have to do with nothing? Don't you read? Didn't the phrase x (which, by the way, was 3 or 4 times in every other page) sound strange to you? Where are we leading to?
I have a lot to say about this, but I'll leave it to another time. In the meantime, I summon all translators, interpreters, linguists, and people interested in languages, to speak up, to tell me what gets you on fire when you read a bad translation.

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