Good Translation: Art, Craft, or Science? by Mahmoud Ordudari

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  • Topic: Translation, Target language, Literal translation
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  • Published : April 21, 2012
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Good Translation: Art, Craft, or Science?
by Mahmoud Ordudari
University of Esfahan, Iran
Throughout history, translation has made inter-linguistic communication between peoples possible. Theoretically, one can consider translation a science; practically, it seems rational to consider it an art. However, regardless of whether one considers translation as a science, art, or craft, one should bear in mind that a good translation should fulfill the same function in the TL as the original did in the SL. Key words: Culture, SL, TL, Translation.

1. Introduction
uman beings, throughout history, have made an effort to take advantage of various methods of communication with the intention of utilizing the knowledge of other nations and endeavoring to preserve this knowledge for the coming generations. As the most effective methods of communication, language has been employed to satisfy the very need of communication. The predicament that may emerge as an obstacle in the way of communication seems to be the fact of dissimilarity of languages throughout the world. In today's world, communication between different nations with different languages is feasible through translation.

2. What is translation?
What is translation? Webster's New World dictionary defines "to translate" as follows: 1. to move from one place or condition to another; transfer; specif., a) Theol. to convey directly to heaven without death, b) Eccles. to transfer (a bishop) from one see to another; also, to move (a saint's body or remains) from one place of interment to another; 2. to put into the words of a different language;

3. to change into another medium or form to translate ideas into action; 4. to put into different words; rephrase or paraphrase in explanation; 5. to transmit (a telegraphic message) again by means of an automatic relay (as is cited by Yazdunpanuh, 2000:1) Whether translation is regarded as a science, art, or craft, a good translation should play the same role in the TL as the original did in the SL.| Lewis (1958:265) writes that "translate" is formed from the Latin "trans+latus", which means "carried across". Foster (1958:1) considers translation as the act of transferring through which the content of a text is transferred from the SL into the TL. Not taking culture into consideration, Catford (1965: 20) points out that, "translation is the replacement of textual material in one language by equivalent textual material in another language. In this definition, the most important thing is equivalent textual material; nonetheless, it is unclear in terms of the type of equivalence. For Levy (1967:148), "translation is a process of communication whose objective is to import the knowledge of the original to the foreign reader?" Echoing the similar viewpoint, Savory (1968:37) believes that translation is made possible by an equivalent of the idea that lies behind its different verbal expressions. Translation, whose beginning can be traced back to the Tower of Babel (Finlay, 1971:17), is defined as "a bilingual mediated process of communication which ordinarily aims at the production of a TL text that is functionally equivalent to a SL text" (Reiss, 1971:161). Furthermore, regarding the definition of translation, Brislin (1976: 1) notes: The general term referring to the transfer of thoughts and ideas from one language (source) to another (target), whether the languages are in written or oral form; whether the languages have established orthographies or do not have such standardization or whether one or both languages is based on signs, as with sign languages of the deaf. In a similar position, Pinhhuck (1977: 38) defines translation as "a process of finding a TL equivalent for an SL utterance." Moreover, Wilss (1982: 3) points out: Translation is a transfer process, which aims at the transformation of a written SL text into an optimally equivalent TL text, and which requires the syntactic, the semantic and...
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