Literature is a beautiful expression or emotion of a human being. It encompasses creative poetry and prose from different cultures, which makes it extremely popular in the overseas market. This gives birth to translation. But, challenges in literary translation are multiple in numbers. Owing to its imaginative nature and other factors, translators often find it difficult to translate the literary piece, keeping the style, tone, meaning and essence same as the original one. However, its importance cannot be sidelined.
For every business man, – publisher, author, lyricist, editor etc. – who desires to extend the reach of his literary content beyond the domestic boundaries, it is important to understand both the importance and hurdles that come in the way of authentic translation.
Significance of Literary Translation
If you will try to understand this from a business point of view, you won’t be able to understand that. So, let’s understand it in a different way. Literature, in some way or the other, teaches us about life, philosophy, history and various other things that not just help in boosting our knowledge, but also helps us analyze life from a different perspective. This is the major reason why literature translation is important and has a huge demand on a global scale.
It is simply through translation that the thoughts and philosophies of an author can reach to a worldwide audience. People from around the world get easy access to literary artworks that would otherwise be framed in the huge libraries around the world. It’s a unique way to help people understand a myriad of emotions and understanding how people in the ancient times used to think and act, in comparison to the people in the modern era. Honestly speaking, if a piece of literature is authentically translated, it increases its readership and popularity on a worldwide level. As a result, the publisher, author or editor etc. connects with the audience and gain riches, in terms of appreciation and money.
How Did Literary Translation Begin?
The history of literary translation is very complex and deep. The first translation is considered to be that of Jewish Scriptures between 3rd and 1st centuries. Studies say that the Jews forgot what their ancestral language was. So, they decided to get translation of the scriptures in early Koine Greek language. Talking about Asia, Buddhism became the major driving force for ongoing translation for almost a thousand years. The Arabs also showed efforts at translation and translated varied philosophical and scientific works into Arabic versions. In the 14th century, Geoffrey Chaucer came up with the first ever fine translation in English language.
Major Challenges of Literary Translation
Now when you know why such translation is important, you should also know how much pain it takes to deliver a high quality translated output.
a) Number of Words :
A major challenge for this type of translation is the number of words in the source file. Generally, the artworks (such as poetry) have hundreds of pages, which makes it very challenging for the translators to translate the same within very short time deadlines. Especially the newbie professional translators find it very difficult to match the original source with the target file, in terms of its meaning and essence.
b) No Direct Translation
This is another major challenge that the translators face. Words or phrases having direct translation in the target language are very easy to translate. However, those with no direct translation are very difficult to translate. Often in extreme cases, the equivalents or options available also differ from the original word in its exact meaning. Hence, overcoming translation challenges becomes difficult in this case.
c) Creative Content
Translating a ‘creative’ content or even describing the content in your own language is a very difficult task. Novels, poems, ballads and other such content have an imaginative flow to them, and translating them word to word disrupts that flow. Even if the content is not word to word translated, the translator can still face issues to keep the flow, style and tone same as that of the original content. A single word can be troublesome sometimes.
Even the authors of the best-selling series agree that the length of the content is not the biggest challenge in translation, but, the names created by the authors. When a novel is to be translated into another language, names (including those which sound like real names in English) can be very problematic.
e) Readers’ Cultural Background
One cannot restrict, who would be reading his or her novel. The readers could be fans of a specific author or may be ones, who like to read best sellers, sci-fi stories etc. Also, the authors who write these novels come from varying cultural backgrounds. Hence, it would be easier for a reader, who belongs to the same cultural background to understand the ethnic background, traditions and rituals used in the novel. However, for someone who has no idea of the culture background that the author belongs to, will find it difficult to understand the novel. This is what makes novel translation difficult.
Ideal Skills Required in a Literary Translator
The only solution to eliminate the above challenges is to hire an experienced and professional literary translator. Since this work is a bit different from other translation works, it requires strict guidance of only and only experienced translators, who are well aware of the tips and tricks for literary translation. With prose and poetry, you require both linguistic fluency as well as creative writing, which is the forte of talented translators.
Also, while hiring the translators, you should keep in mind that the translator is confident enough to complete his or her task. He or she should have the capability to come up with the right set of words, when the flow of the content seems to be breaking, due to lack of proper equivalents in the target language.
When translating novels, books, ballads or other exceedingly long content, the translator should commit continuity and a promise to deliver the same within time. Basically, if you want your artwork to be published across multiple languages, make sure that you hire professional translators only.
So, What’s the Solution?
There are thousands of literary contents that remain unknown to the worldwide audience, due to poor translation or no translation at all. Tridindia offers accurate literary translation services that involve high quality translation for all kinds of literary art pieces. The team consists of professional experts, who hold immense expertise as well as specialization in translating literature in any language combinations.
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