On Translation ~ حول الترجمة

Isabel del Rio

جزءان هامان من كتاب “امرأة وحيدة” حول الترجمة (بين الاسبانية والانكليزية) من مذكرات الكاتبة إيزابيل دَلٌ ريو، الأول، عن عملية الترجمة والثاني، عن تطابق اللغة وتوافقها. 

ففي الأول تتحدث عن صعوبات الترجمة وكيف أنّها معقدة للغاية في الوقت ذاته هي عملية خلق سامٍ ودقيق يجعل من المنتج النهائي ولكأنّ العملية من أسهل ما يكون. 

أمًا عن توافق اللغة، ماذا يحصل حين تتعلم لغة جديدة؟ كيف تقارن لغتك الأصلية مع اللغة الجديدة لتتوافقا؟ كيف لأحاسيسك وتجاربك أن تساهم لعملية تعلم اللغة الجديدة؟  

Two sections on language from the autobiography ‘A Woman Alone: fragments of a memoir’ by Isabel del Rio, published by Friends of Alice Publishing, 2021.  Available on Amazon.

  1. The Translation Process

The difficulties of translation: how translation is an extraordinarily complex yet highly creative process, and yet the finished product will look like it was the easiest thing in the world.

Translation?  What is the subject?  Who is it aimed at?  What are the source and target languages?  What is the context?  What is the purpose of the message?  Is there, in any case, a message?  So many questions open in your mind well before embarking on a new translation of a particular text.  Yes, a bloody sport: you get your hands dirty and, as if that was not enough, you are unashamedly accused of being a traitor, a word that some like to say is a misspelling of ‘translator’ in certain languages.  Ultimately, translation is about changing apples into pears without anyone noticing.  To transmute, acclimatise, rewrite, adapt, re-erect.  The worst is that you can never be entirely satisfied, who can with so very many options hovering around you, uncertainty as your best friend.  In terms of language, it is also a matter of taste, concern, time, complexity, choices or lack of them.  It is entirely up to you to interpret whatever message there may be in the original text, if there is a message or an ultimate meaning or a second or third or umpteenth reading.  A murky, grisly, never-ending process it is.  A lonely act, perhaps even a lewd one!  Translating?  Yes, take a piece of writing, kill it, skin it, pluck it, remove the bones from the flesh, slice it up, crunch it, destroy it to the core.  And then what?  Well, then it is the inverse process.  Reconstruct it as best you can, try to rebuild something with all those fractured morsels, structure it and make it into a self-contained product if you are lucky and resourceful enough.  And then, as a final act, give it the breath of life, nothing less.  No, the target text will never be the same as the source text!   No grass will ever grow back, that is a given, yet daisies will sprout.  Daisies and chrysanthemums and peonies; a whole garden in fact, different from the original but a beautiful garden nevertheless.  From one language to another, as smooth a transition as from air to fire.  And if you are good enough, no one should ever know how it came to be.  Worse still, no one will think that a human was involved in the process.  It happened by magic, without effort, just like that.  Yes, so very easily.

  1. Matching your Languages 

What happens when you learn a new language, how do you combine your existing language with a newly acquired language, how will your emotions and experiences contribute to the language learning process?

To speak a new language demands, among other things, matching words and experiences.  However, in your new language there may be no words for certain experiences you had in the past; likewise, you will learn words in your new language for which you have not yet acquired the experiences to match.  And this collection of voids, where words and experiences are not yet adequately tallied, will also need to be very carefully stage-managed alongside any languages you may speak.  Ultimately, the combination of all these words and voids will eventually become a private dialect of some sort.  If you are really lucky, you might be able to find someone with whom you can speak in that particular dialect and accurately communicate without any outsiders understanding either of you.  Meeting someone like that is, as might be expected, a chance in at least a million.


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