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I think it is every translator's dream that they can make beautiful translation which carries the exact meaning of the original piece...yet many cannot achieve such goal. |
What are the reasons behind the many fallen attempts at creating a precise and beautiful translation? In my humble opinion, the reasons are two-folded.
First of all, many of the translators, when given a piece to work on, have limited knowledges on the tradition and history of the Western culture. For example, if I say:" Sara is Salome.", can most of the translator get the meaning of such sentence? Without any knowledge of the Holy Bible, you cannot correctly translate it. Salome is a mythical character in the Bible. She is a very attractive dancer who seduced the King and made him cut off the head of a Jewish prophet. So only if you have read the Bible before, you would know the sentence means that Sara is a very enchanting lady.
Second of all, many of the translator likes to substitute their own words when attempting translation. But is it necessary to do so? Would you not agree that the author is a much better writer than you? And what you are doing actually damage the original flavor of the piece? If so it happens, that your understanding of the meaning is incorrect, will the piece not just lose its meaning, but also it is possible for it to mean completely the opposite? For example, Nietszche's piece "Beyond Good and Evil: A Prelude to the Philosophy of the Future" has been translated into "善与恶的彼岸", but is it what Nietszche really mean? Is the book really about a place where there is no Good or Evil? Actually we have to emphasize on the word Beyond. What he really means is that he wish to discuss is what give us the idea of Good and Evil, and the subtitle indicate that the books is about the neccessary move you have to make before you are eligible to even attempt the philosophy of the future. So the most correct translation should be: "超越善与恶：未来哲学的一段前奏". So before we are attempting a piece, make sure we understand it well so that the meaning will not lost in the translation.