The A to Z of Literary Translation: J to L

By Georgia de Chamberet

Jerome of Stridonium is the patron saint of theological learning in the Roman Catholic Church and is also recognized as a saint by the Eastern Orthodox Church. Remembered in particular for his version of the Old Testament based on the Hebrew texts, he is credited for the principle of translating ísense for senseë as opposed to íword for word.ë The prestigious St. Jerome Lecture on Literary Translation hosted by the Times Literary Supplement has become the Sebald Lecture on literary translation promoted by the British Centre for Literary Translation (BCLT). The lecture usually follows on from the TA's annual Translation Prize-giving ceremony.

Knowledge of the culture, ideas and mother tongue of the writer to be translated, is imperative. Along with a whole host of linguistic and other criteria. For Orhan Pamuk's translator, Maureen Freely, the starting point was ía strong emotional attachment to Turkish from childhood. I loved the music of it and longed to find a way of bringing that music to English…ë Resources like Mona Baker's Routledge Encyclopedia of Translation Studies are useful for attaining greater knowledge of translation theory and practice.

Love of learning and language sustained by a logical mindset are de rigeur. Whatever the approach, a translation should make sense, convey the spirit and style of the original, feel natural, and flow. Application of good grammar, consistent word use, keeping phrases and sentences intact, translating nouns by nouns and verbs by verbs; respecting punctuation marks, paragraph breaks, poetic indentation, are further necessities.



Sorry, Georgia, but I couldn’t agree more with Marian Schwartz.  Even translating as I do from French and Italian, two languages with similar grammatical structures to English, I often find myself translating nouns with verbs, verbs with adjectives, etc. as well as changing punctuation and sentence structure, breaking up sentences, putting two sentences together into one, and so on - all for the sake of conveying the sense rather than the letter of the original and producing (I hope) an elegant text in English.
COMMENT: thanks for your comments, point taken! really a case of ‘you have to know the rules to break them’?! - Georgia
COMMENT: ‘in the beginning was the senses’

this is the only valid origin that languages can claim !



yes,the sense of the work matters more than the words in grammatical order.the problem with translating from Indian languages is that one cannot really lose sight of experiences as it occurs to the writer in terms of a certain locale. Sensory images are by far the most difficult to capture in an outside language.


sense as meaning is twice removed from sense as sensory expression/perception.


the joy and challenge of translation in India is to pause at these borders of perception without really erasing them.


translation as an activity of transcendence in my opinion is a myth.  it is the willingness to dwell in the here and the now without being under pressure to create seamless wholes of experience. 


Howard Curtis’ idea of ‘elegance’ might be difficult to accept unless he means plain readability.
DATE: 05/01/2008 11:05:14 PM

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