Translation – the art of adaptation (translating the spark of inspiration and creation)

Today, largely as a consequence of developments in online automated translation services, translation itself has become to be viewed simply as a service, as opposed to an art form in its own right.

In a number of sectors and departments, however, a genuine skill and artistic talent needs to be applied for the translation process to be successful. Indeed, at the current stage of development, automated translation services are merely useful for getting the gist of a meaning and nothing more.

In the literary world, for example, translation is more than simple linguistic interpretation and rather an adaptation of the energy, tone, sentiment and rhythm of an artistic piece.  As professional book translation expert, Maureen Freely, puts it, she has to “capture the music” of the language as she hears it.

Indeed, Robert Wechsler’s book ‘Performing Without A Stage: The Art of Literary Translation’, is one in a long line of writings specifically detailing the art of book translation.  In it he says, “Like a musician, a literary translator takes someone else’s composition and performs it in his own special way”.  He goes on to suggest that translation is an “odd art form”, but an art form all the same.

The translator is performing a separate role to the initial composer, and Wechsler states “If an actor did the same thing as a playwright, a dancer did the same thing as a composer, or a singer did the same thing as a songwriter, no one would think much of what they do either.”  In essence what he is suggesting is that the book translation is an artistic process quite separate to the initial creation, but with a comparable level of artistic merit.

Outside of literary translation too you see the need for a level of knowledge, expertise and indeed natural ability.  Not everyone can be good content writer or marketer, for example, and thus too, not everyone can translate in such a way either.

Within the business context, when you translate language, you are not simply replacing word for word, but rather adapting the content for a new cultural environment.  This requires knowledge of the specific sector or industry, as well as the unique target culture.  It demands also an ability to communicate with a set audience and to understand the tone and message of a company.

In conclusion, the process of adaptation of one language to another; be it through book translation, web copy, marketing, or any other such text, requires a certain nous and ability that itself has unique artistic merits.  Professional translators are equipped to perform the process to such a level, in order to achieve quality.  Automated translation tools, on the other hand, lack nous, creativity, flair, cultural sensitivity, and all manner of additionally required facets of knowledge and expertise.

The Language of Food – translating recipes

Within a globalised world, International Cuisine has become more and more popular.  On the high street of every major western city you can now find restaurants fromMongolia,Ethiopia,Vietnam, andLebanon, alongside the more staple Indian, Italian, Chinese, andThai.  There is truly a taste to tickle everyone’s buds, and now increasingly people are attempting to recreate their favourite international dishes in their own kitchens.

This poses a problem.  Everyone knows that the best recipes are the genuine ones; the ones that come from the Mongolian Hills or the Swedish Hinterlands, and are passed down from generation to generation.  The issue comes in the form of recipe book translation.  Not only is it important that the instructions are comprehendible and easy to follow, but it is key that they also sound attractive.  No one wants to cook a tuna tummy, or an octopus ball.  The essence of the dish needs to translate, not simply the words of the recipe.

Like many niche areas within translation, it is crucial that they are translated by people with a knowledge of both the cuisine of the source country, and the language and culture of the target country.  Language alone is not enough, as someone can know English very well, and not know what a ‘Chiffonade’ is, or a ‘Coddled Egg’.  If the subtleties of more complex recipes are to translate well, then it is necessary that specific ‘cooking’ terms are understood, and correctly interpreted.  It may be the case that there isn’t a specific word in the target language for every term, and this is when a translation company needs to use their expertise, and ensure that the process or ingredient is clearly explained.

It is often the case that a cooking process or ingredient can change depending on the country also.  The two most obvious examples are the Aubergine and Courgette.  Although theUnited StatesandEnglandboth use English language, the English names of these vegetables are completely different.  InAmerica, the Aubergine and Courgette are known as the Eggplant and Zucchini.  When translating a recipe containing these ingredients, the English and US versions would of course have to differ.  This is an example of way cultural knowledge is important.

Even the major players in the food industry get it wrong, with fast food giant McDonalds recently having to take down two Hmong language billboards they had put up in Minnesota.  Although the translations did loosely achieve the targeted phrase of “Coffee Gets You Up, Breakfast Gets You Going”, the Hmong population claimed that they had used clumsy sentences, and it wasn’t a correct use of their language.  This shows just how easy it is to get translations wrong when cultural sensitivity isn’t considered.

Sometimes menus even can get it totally wrong, and rather than enticing people into their culinary delights, can turn people off.  Below are some genuine examples of when a menu translation goes wrong.  Who would fancy eating any of the following?

‘Boiled Blocks of Pork berry in sweat Shoyu Sauce’

‘Chicken with Green Jews’

‘Big Giant Crap’

‘Hot Bowels’

‘Robster Balls’

All of this clearly indicates the necessity for a professional translation service when it comes to the food industry.  If you truly want your food to translate into an enticing prospect outside of its native country and culture, then language is a key ingredient.

Translation: the art-form of a globalising world

With the incredible growth of Amazon’s ‘Kindle’, we now find ourselves very firmly in the e-book generation.  Indeed the electronic reading device is now Amazon’s largest selling single product of all time, and latest statistics suggest that sales of e-books will very soon be overtaking their print siblings.  For new and independent writers, this opens up the possibility of reaching a global audience quicker.

Google ebooks has indeed recently upgraded its system to perform real time translations, further reducing the impact of language barriers.  This does, however, of course still suffer from the limitations of all electronic translation tools.  It is useful perhaps for simple ‘how to’ guides, and recipe books, but when it comes to literature, it still falls a long way short.  Translating words and translating art are two very different processes, producing two incomparable results.

Like with traditional print literature, if you want to reach people in every corner of the world, then the quality of the book translation is crucial.  Consider the endless hours you put into your writing initially, at times spending days perfecting one sentence or paragraph.  If you are truly to be embraced as an author by different cultures, then it’s imperative that the quality of your work translates.  Indeed many of the most successful book translations are actually considered as artistic works in their own rights.

Fundamentally, if you want to maximise the popularity and success of any book, then you need to make it available in as many languages and on as many formats as possible.  With quality translation services, you can easily format your book to be available both online and as a traditional print publication.  Despite the flourishing interest in the ebook industry, there are those who refuse to abandon the page for the screen, and it is important not to leave them out.

It is important also to research extensively before selecting which languages you hope to translate into.  Many English language authors have suggested that, when translating into French and German, they didn’t receive the level of sales expected.  Quite simply this could be because the book doesn’t have any specific appeal in countries already rich in their own literature.  Why would they choose to read a translation when they have so many established authors writing in their tongue?

This is why the quality of the translation is important.  Unless you are writing a niche guide or subject specific text, you will struggle to compete with foreign language markets.  That is unless, of course, the quality of the translation can compete.  It is crucial not only for the author to translate the language, but also to consider how to make it accessible within their culture.  When this happens there can be a great collaborative success, and really that is what quality literary translation is all about; collaboration.

Translation is viewed in many countries as an art form, which deserves respect.  There are indeed annual awards for the best pieces.  The English language market is, however, falling behind, with many publishers for too long deeming translated texts as ‘difficult to sell’.  With a globalising world, an increase in the popularity of international travel, and a focus from many literary bodies to address the balance, the future, however, seems not only brighter, but more diverse.  Within our ever increasingly connected world, translated texts are slowly beginning to be considered as the ‘tour de force’ that they once were.

“Me have news we going to make you well ‘appy” – a brief history of Bible translation

The Bible is the biggest selling book in history, with overall estimates ranging from around 2.5 to 6 billion copies worldwide, and annual sales of approximately 2.5 million.  It has been at least part translated into 2508 different languages, and is thus the largest book translation job ever taken on.  Its journey through the languages, however, has at times been arduous and often filled with controversy.

Many people have accused various individuals of poisoning The Bible for their own purposes, or indeed simply misinterpreting the often profound nature of its content.  It has been the cause of divides, and many would say even wars, with different denominations of Christianity and Judaism evolving from various interpretations of ‘the word’.

In addition to the various translations, different denominations also choose to omit or focus on specific books within the Bible itself, leading to a variety of focus and assertions.  The number of individual books included in The Bible, in Christianity, ranges from 66 in the Protestant faith, to 81 in Ethiopian Orthodox.  Often it is this omitting, or lack of focus on one specific fact or story, that completely shifts the belief system of a specific faith or denomination.

The oldest books of the Bible were believed to have been written almost 3500 years ago, and were scribed in ancient Hebrew, a language differing massively from the Hebrew in use today.  The Septuagint was the name given to the early Greek translation of the Jewish Scriptures, in Egypt, between 300-200 BC.   Many Jewish settlers at the time had lost their Hebrew language, and thus it was important for the scripture to be translated into Greek.  It is believed that The Septuagint was inked by a team of seventy authors, and indeed the word itself means seventy in Latin.

In 995 AD the Bible was first translated from Latin into Anglo Saxon, and the first hand-written English language Bible manuscripts were produced in the 1380′s by John Wycliffe, an Oxford professor, scholar, and theologian.  By the 16th Century, aided by the founding of the Print Press, English and German copies were made readily available.  The founding of the Print Press in 1476 meant that for the first time The Bible could be owned by the majority of the population of the world.

Still, today there remains an element of mystery, and a necessity for trust and faith, not only in God, but in those men who provided the first certified translations of the text.  The large majority of people on the planet are now able to study The Bible in their native tongue, and those who cannot as yet, are gradually moving to do so.  There are professional translation services to be found in even the most miniscule of languages, and recently, for example, there was news of the first Bible to be written in the Jamaican language of Patois.

I will leave you today with an exert from that very text;

“De angel go to Mary and say to ‘er, me have news we going to make you well ‘appy. God really, really, bless you and him a walk with you all de time.”

ComTranslations “Honored” to be Commissioned for Vatican Book Translation Project

ComTranslations is pleased to announce its delight at recently being commissioned by the Catholic University San Antonio of Murcia (UCAM) to undertake one of the most exciting translation projects of the year – the translation of L’ Eucaristia grembo della Chiesa. In cammino verso il 50º Congresso eucaristico internazionale di Dublino – into Spanish from the original Italian.

Published by Libreria Editrice Vaticana, the official Vatican Publishing House, the volume consists of a series of pastoral, theological and historical reflections, created in readiness for this year’s 50th edition of the International Eucharistic Congress, which took place in Dublin, Republic of Ireland, from June 10 till June 17.

Due to this year’s congress coinciding with the Second Vatican Council’s 50th anniversary, the importance of L’ Eucaristia grembo della Chiesa. In cammino verso il 50º Congresso eucaristico internazionale di Dublino could not be understated. The volume is seen as an essential part of efforts by the Vatican to promote the reconciliation and renewal of the Eucharistic worship, not to mention the renewed catechesis of the mystery of the Eucharist and its social-cultural celebration.

Considering its significance, the need for a highly accurate translation that paid careful heed to the religious text’s specific vernacular was absolutely imperative, to ensure that the original meaning would be preserved and the message of the interpreted version would remain clear and unaltered. As such, ComTranslations, which enjoys a reputation as one of the world’s fastest-growing translation agencies, was the obvious partner for the University San Antonio of Murcia (UCAM) to turn to.

Discussing the project, ComTranslations CEO Carlos Garcia admitted that he considered the responsibility of translating L’ Eucaristia grembo della Chiesa. In cammino verso il 50º Congresso eucaristico internazionale di Dublino to be a huge honor:

“We are humbled and honored, and extremely grateful to be considered for the translation of books of such value, significance and importance. This is a huge testament to the high-quality work provided by our company, for which we must pay thanks to our talented translators.”

Following the successful completion of the L’ Eucaristia grembo della Chiesa. In cammino verso il 50º Congresso eucaristico internazionale di Dublino translation, ComTranslations has since been commissioned by UCAM to undertake the translation of further religious texts published by Libreria Editrice Vaticana. These volumes will first be translated from Italian into Spanish, before being reproduced in other languages should the need arise.

The approach and process of literature translations

Books throw open the gates of literary world to interested readers. Through the words penned down by great and creative minds, readers are able to explore and embark on a journey of discovery that engages their intellect. Book translation is a process that is equally creative, but perhaps more tough than the original process of book writing. The challenges and responsibility faced during book translation are enormous, not only for the translator but also the translation company that is involved in this project.

The book translation project involves various activities and milestones. A translation company with good experience in the book translation process can help to not only create interest in reading the translated version of the original book, but also opens up opportunities for commercial exploitation in future in the form of a movie or play adaptation to a new audience.

The first important step in the book translation activity is of course the selection of the original work. Necessary permission from the author or copyright owner and publisher needs to be taken.

The translation company which takes up the book translation assignment typically has a panel of experts, who are competent in the two languages, i.e. the language in which the original book was written as well as the language in which it is to be translated. Apart from linguistic skills, it is crucial to engage people with the required literary skills. Book translation requires that the translated version is as accurate and honest to the original work as possible. Not merely are the words and text translated, but the whole reading experience and response has to be recreated. This is not easy. It requires tremendous skills, a strong vocabulary and a familiarity with the literature of both the languages. Often both the languages differ greatly in usage of words and hence a literal translation does not work well.

The development of plot, characters, description, lyrics, quotations all count during book translation. A good combination of translation skills therefore need to be put together. These skills involve accuracy in translating words correctly while maintaining a genuine reflection of the literary style used by the author. Depending on the kind of book, i.e., fiction or non-fiction, prose or poetry, the appropriate translation team is constituted.

No translation company wishes to face criticism that the original work has not been appropriately translated. In this respect book translation process has mechanisms and steps for review, correction, editing and proof-reading.

On the whole book translation is a task that requires special demands of linguistic and literary expertise. It is an important and creative task that helps the original work to be read by people who do not know the language of the original work, but are eager to enjoy the pleasures of the written word.

We at ComTranslations have a great record of providing book translation services. We welcome any opportunity to serve your needs. We assure you that you will find high quality work that meets your project timelines. Our strong experience in this field will cut down on unnecessary rework that leads to wastage of time and effort.

Why is book translation so important?

Books represent the rich blend of knowledge and culture in a society. They truly reflect the thoughts, ideas and values of a community. Reading a book written in a foreign language helps one to get acquainted with the thoughts, traditions, principles and actions of the people from the region.

As Ray Bradbury said, “You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.”  When people do not have the provision of getting to read a good book merely because it is written in a language they do not know, they are kept in the dark about a huge resource of ancient knowledge and traditional wisdom. Book translation is an activity of great importance. A good translation agency with an expertise in skills such as Arabic translation can play a significant role in unlocking the vast literature that has been unavailable to a majority of non-Arabic readers all over the world.

Arabic translation of ancient texts can reveal useful insights about the culture and traditions practiced by the people in those times. This provides important clues as to how and why these beliefs have evolved over the years. This would be of particular interest to academicians, scholars and researchers. As a creation of one of the oldest civilizations, the Arabic literature carries a rich legacy of thoughts, social beliefs and philosophy. It is an irony that in the present times, these texts have been misunderstood and misinterpreted to distort the very humanistic values they stood for. Book translation can be used to correctly portray these facts and figures. Ignorance of the Arabic language can be effectively resolved by availing services of an experienced translation agency. Unless the Arabic translation is carried out by people who are well versed not only with the language, but also the culture of the community, the translation would not be rendered accurately.

Each language has its own unique features and peculiarities. What has to be literally translated and what has to be understood and correctly represented depends largely on the choice of appropriate words by the translator in an honest manner without deviating from the main meaning of the text. Book translation thus calls for more stringent and higher quality standards as compared to skills needed for translating other documents since there is a moral obligation towards the author as well. Recreating the original work is a big challenge.

Services of a competent translation agency for book translation can be leveraged to convey thoughts, ideas and beliefs of an ancient civilization to a vast majority of the world. There are many non-Arabic speaking people who are interested in unearthing the mysteries of Arabic literature. Sharing this knowledge in the form of translated books has a meaningful impact on the way in which the Arab world is perceived and understood. Creativity and intellectual prowess have no barriers and they should be enjoyed, analyzed and appreciated by all readers who wish to use Arabic translation of books to enhance their knowledge of a particular subject.