September 10, 2022
Translators are the part of a process of the dialogue between two cultures, two languages and two different mindsets. A process which calls forth a profound understanding of the language they are translating from and a fluency in the language they are translating into.
The complex and creative process of adapting one text into a new reality, mediating between your source and target language insinuates that a translator’s task is not only an intricate and a demanding one but highly creative.
Translation is often a task of solving “context” problems. That is where creativity comes in.
Translators face with a complex task: Use different words to achieve the same meaning. This naturally suggests that excellent writing skills are crucial and that what translators are engaged in, is a process of rewriting.
In translation, the “writing” element is the basic raw material translators use for their work. Considering that writing is a creative act, equally, translation is a creative act. A creatively written text is a text creatively translated.
Creativity is the key by which a skilled translator deals with some of the most common problems in translating. Often, a translator will hesitate between representing form versus content. Creativity is the thing that can find a harmonious balance between the two, and the whole process becomes more art than science. In addition, translations should not be literal. Rather, they need to convey the full meaning of the original text, which includes cultural context. Some languages have idioms and sayings that don’t exist in other languages. Many of these find their roots in cultural cues which may not even exist in the culture of the target language.
An artist who replicates an existing artwork, for example, would never be in communication with the artist of the original piece. He would never own a possibility to get the message right and better understand the text!
Replicating is an act of mere copying. If translators were copyists and if their work was simple, for sure there would be no such thing as copyrighted translated literature!
Translators (and not necessarily literary ones), therefore, need to plunge into the text they are working on. Before the adaptation of the text for a new audience, the translators need to consider all the nuances. A task which cannot, under normal circumstances, be perfect since the concepts within a text, are an integral part of a culture and the language the people of that culture speak. It is almost impossible to rewrite the text with absolute accuracy in another language. Each language works differently.
1. Personal translation style
Translators will always instill something personal in their work. The outcome directly links to the person who produced it. Each translator approaches a text differently. Should several translators work on the same text, then we would witness over several translation versions. Creativity is inherently personal and through a personal translation style, translators manifest their creative approach.
2. Ability to connect the dots
In a translation, there are many dots to connect before the translator achieves the best result. The tools (dots) translators inadvertently mix span from a feel of the language, translation and writing skills, in-depth understanding of the cultural context in play, the ability to read between the lines to the more technical aspects of their work such as CAT tools, glossaries, resources.
3. Copywriting skills
Translators often provide copywriting services to diversify and as a natural extension to translation. Translators are brilliant copywriters. Because they can approach texts from a “translator’s perspective”, focusing on clarity and precision avoiding wording that can cause misinterpretation.
4. Artistic personality
The profession of a translation demands this worker be creative. Why? Because they need to support any topic, the particularity of their jobs demands them to know much. And this justifies why not every person, knowing the language, can work as a translator?
There are many translators who are also artists, in the true sense of the word. A tad of research has revealed a creative “alias” for quite a few linguists who, besides their main professional activity, are engaged (either as a hobby or on a professional level) in creative activities:
Art is an outlet, a way to express emotions and concerns. An artistic activity has something in common with the translating psyche which elaborates, adapts and metamorphoses information, a “source”, into something else, a “target” or in the language of an artist: a painting, a photograph, a novel.
Art is (also) about translating feelings. And, highly qualified linguists can be remarkable at drawing or playing the violin and still be sought-after professionals just like anybody else.
5. Creatively perceptive
Translators do not read superficially. They assimilate and elaborate information as part of their work process. Knowledge inspires. The more you know, the more you want to explore, create, and find solutions. Translators are creative because they soak up the knowledge in the world.
6. Language as a creative tool
Language is indisputably creative. Like an artist who uses colors, mixing them in combinations that serve the purpose of an art project, translators will similarly use language as a tool with which to produce their work.
That translators know at least two languages, stimulates their creativity even more. The languages enrich them and they know how to complement possible “voids” in one language with information from another. Creativity is more likely to surface when speaking over one language.
7. Excellent branding skills
In marketing, branding is the par excellence paradigm of translators’ creativity (branding usually applies to freelance translators/business owners and not all translators). Through the creation of a brand, translators connect those dots that will help communicate their message to clients and prospects.
Their ability to translate the essence of their services into a brand name, design, colors, marketing copy is admirable.
Translators’ creativity is obvious on many levels and it requires more attention and appreciation, first, and foremost by translators themselves, so they can firmly and confidently enrich not just their own world of possibilities, but the message they give out to the world.
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