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translation noun
Abbr. tr., trans., transl.
1. a. The act or process of translating, especially from one language into another. b. The state of being translated.
2. A translated version of a text.
3. Physics. Motion of a body in which every point of the body moves parallel to and the same distance as every other point of the body; nonrotational displacement.
4. Biology. The process by which messenger RNA directs the amino acid sequence of a growing polypeptide during protein synthesis.
— trans·la¹tion·al adjective
 

translation (noun)
translation, version, rendering, free translation, loose rendering
faithful translation, literal translation, construe
key, crib
pony, trot
rewording, paraphrase, metaphrase
précis, abridgment, epitome, COMPENDIUM
adaptation, simplification, amplification, INTELLIGIBILITY
transliteration, decoding, decipherment
lip-reading
 
 

Translation
To translate, one must have a style of his own, for the translation will have no rhythm or nuance, which come from the process of artistically thinking through and molding the sentences; they cannot be reconstituted by piecemeal imitation. The problem of translation is to retreat to a simpler tenor of one’s own style and creatively adjust this to one’s author.
Paul Goodman (1911–72), U.S. author, poet, critic. Five Years, “Summer 1957, in Europe,” sct. 8 (1966).

Translation is entirely mysterious. Increasingly I have felt that the art of writing is itself translating, or more like translating than it is like anything else. What is the other text, the original? I have no answer. I suppose it is the source, the deep sea where ideas swim, and one catches them in nets of words and swings them shining into the boat … where in this metaphor they die and get canned and eaten in sandwiches.
Ursula K. Le Guin (b. 1929), U.S. author. “Reciprocity of Prose and Poetry,” address, 1983 in Poetry Series, Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington, D.C. (published in Dancing at the Edge of the World, 1989).

Any translation which intends to perform a transmitting function cannot transmit anything but information—hence, something inessential. This is the hallmark of bad translations.
Walter Benjamin (1892–1940), German critic, philosopher. Illuminations, “The Task of the Translator” (1955; ed. by Hannah Arendt, 1968).

Nor ought a genius less than his that writ
Attempt translation.
Sir John Denham (1615–69), English poet. To Sir Richard Fanshaw upon his translation of Pastor Fido. The poem begins:“Such is our pride, our folly, or our fate, That few but such as cannot write, translate.”

God employs several translators; some pieces are translated by age, some by sickness, some by war, some by justice.
John Donne (c. 1572–1631), English divine, metaphysical poet. Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions, Meditation 17 (1624).

I do not hesitate to read … all good books in translations. What is really best in any book is translatable—any real insight or broad human sentiment.
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–82), U.S. essayist, poet, philosopher. Society and Solitude, “Books” (1870).

The test of a given phrase would be: Is it worthy to be immortal? To “make a beeline” for something. That’s worthy of being immortal and is immortal in English idiom. “I guess I’ll split” is not going to be immortal and is excludable, therefore excluded.
Robert Fitzgerald (1910–85), U.S. scholar, translator. Writers at Work (Eighth Series, ed. by George Plimpton, 1988), on his criteria for translating Homeric Greek. Fitzgerald’s translations of Homer’s Odyssey and The Iliad appeared in 1961 and 1974.

Poetry is what is lost in translation.
Robert Frost (1874–1963), U.S. poet. Quoted in: Louis Untermeyer, Robert Frost: a Backward Look, ch. 1 (1964). Samuel Taylor Coleridge wrote, in Biographia Literaria, ch. 22 (1817): “In poetry, in which every line, every phrase, may pass the ordeal of deliberation and deliberate choice, it is possible, and barely possible, to attain that ultimatum which I have ventured to propose as the infallible test of a blameless style; namely: its untranslatableness in words of the same language without injury to the meaning.”

Translation is the paradigm, the exemplar of all writing…. It is translation that demonstrates most vividly the yearning for transformation that underlies every act involving speech, that supremely human gift.
Harry Mathews (b. 1930), U.S. novelist. Country Cooking and Other Stories, “The Dialect of the Tribe” (1980).

As far as modern writing is concerned, it is rarely rewarding to translate it, although it might be easy…. Translation is very much like copying paintings.
Boris Pasternak (1890–1960), Russian poet, novelist, translator. Interview in Writers at Work (Second Series, ed. by George Plimpton, 1963). “The only interesting sort of translating is that of classics,” Pasternak believed.

A great age of literature is perhaps always a great age of translations.
Ezra Pound (1885–1972), U.S. poet, critic. Egoist (London, Oct. 1917).

The best thing on translation was said by Cervantes: translation is the other side of a tapestry.
Leonardo Sciascia (1921–89), Italian writer. Guardian (London, 5 Aug. 1988).

Translators, traitors.
Italian Proverb.

It were as wise to cast a violet into a crucible that you might discover the formal principle of its colour and odour, as seek to transfuse from one language into another the creations of a poet. The plant must spring again from its seed, or it will bear no flower—and this is the burthen of the curse of Babel.
Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792–1822), English poet. A Defence of Poetry (written 1821; published 1840).

Woe to the makers of literal translations, who by rendering every word weaken the meaning! It is indeed by so doing that we can say the letter kills and the spirit gives life.
Voltaire (1694–1778), French philosopher, author. Letters on England, Letter 18, “On Tragedy” (1732). Earlier in the essay, Voltaire prefaced a translated extract from Shakepeare (“To be or not to be”) with the words: “Have pity on the copy for the sake of the original, and always bear in mind when you see a translation that you are only looking at a feeble print of a great picture.”

Humour is the first of the gifts to perish in a foreign tongue.
Virginia Woolf (1882–1941), British novelist. The Common Reader, “On Not Knowing Greek” (First Series, 1925).


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