In recent decades, many theorists of literary translation have stressed the importance of foregrounding the source culture of the translated text, to avoid what Lawrence Venuti describes as the inherent tendency of translation towards domestication, whereby the translation becomes “imprinted by the target culture, assimilated to its positions of intelligibility, its canons and taboos, its codes and ideologies” (2008: 18). As mediators for the source culture, translators have an ethical duty to convey that culture effectively to target culture readers, resisting the assimilative undertow of the translation process while at the same avoiding the temptation of easy exoticism, falling back on cultural tropes and stereotypes which, instead of enlightening and challenging target culture readers to better understand the rich complexities of the source culture, only serve to reinforce their preconceived ideas about that culture.
The global success of a business relies on effective communication, and professional translation agencies offer the best solution to ensure this. Nearly every industry benefits from translated materials in some aspect of their business. Marketing messages, HR policies, global patent filing, and clinical trials all need to be rendered professionally into other languages to ensure local regulations are met, compliance mandates are adhered to, and your new market understands your brand messaging.
On September 25, 2006, the company Diálogos was born. I founded the business just two months after arriving in Toronto from Mexico City, with the primary purpose of providing Spanish-English translation services, but also with a broader vision of offering a forum of intercultural exchange between the Spanish- and English-speaking worlds in Canada. Over the past decade, Diálogos has evolved into a premium agency providing translation services in the legal, literary, academic and commercial fields, serving clients here in Canada and all over the world. At the same time, our broader vision of supporting exchange between Hispanic and Anglophone communities in Canada has been realized through a wide range of initiatives.
The US initiative of National Translation Month (NTM) announces the celebration’s move from February to September. NTM will now celebrate translations every September starting in 2016 with the official social hashtag #TranslateMonth2016. The goal of National Translation Month (NTM) is to encourage readers worldwide to celebrate literary works in translation from a variety of international authors.
The world of literary translation lost one of its most important figures last month with the death of US translator Gregory Rabassa. When the so-called “Latin American boom” brought writers like Gabriel García Márquez, Mario Vargas Llosa and Julio Cortázar to international fame in the 1960s, it was Rabassa whose well-crafted translations brought many of their masterpieces alive in the English language. For Hopscotch, his translation of Cortázar’s Rayuela, one of the first Latin American novels to receive international attention, Rabassa won the US National Book Award for Translation in 1967. However, of all of his translations the most widely read is without doubt One Hundred Years of Solitude, one of the most important literary works of the twentieth century, whose author García Márquez described Rabassa as “the best Latin American writer in the English language.”
It is common knowledge, at least in the translation industry, that only around 3 percent of all books published in the United States are translations. Indeed, this rather dismal statistic has been enshrined in the name of one of the most important online forums for international literature, the University of Rochester’s excellent website Three Percent. In fact, however, a closer look at the statistics reveal an even worse state of affairs, as the three percent figure is bolstered considerably by technical manuals and other non-fiction texts: for literary fiction and poetry, the figure is actually closer to 0.7%.
Pablo Muñoz Sánchez
Not too long ago I received an email from someone who told me a story which, unfortunately, I’ve heard from others before. The young man was a little discouraged, not because he couldn’t find work (this was also true), but because the professors in his master’s program had taught their courses while at the same time telling their students that it was terribly hard to find work as a translator, that it all operated through cronyism, and that even so, the rates were miserable.
In his Dictionary of Modern Legal Usage, US lawyer and lexicographer Bryan A. Garner suggests that legal writers today need to “strike a difficult balance in the quest to simplify legal English.” In drafting legal texts, he suggests, lawyers and jurists should “not cling perversely to archaic language, which becomes less comprehensible year by year, nor should they seek to jettison every word or phrase that bears the stamp of legal tradition” (xiii). Garner’s call to abandon unnecessary “legalese” and endeavour to make legal English as clear and precise as possible reflects a prevailing attitude in the world of law in recent decades that stresses the importance of “using legal language that is simple and direct” (ix). This general shift towards simplicity and directness in legal language is extremely important for legal translators if we want to produce translations that conform to the norms of contemporary legal English. Of course, problems arise when we are dealing with a source language where such “simplicity and directness” are not necessarily as highly valued as observance of traditional legal formulas.
José Ortega y Gasset
In this, the fifth and final part of his essay on translation, Ortega y Gasset defines translation as a means of accessing other perspectives on the human experience. In this way, translation is viewed as an essential element of a grand humanist project to develop our understanding of what it truly means to be human, a project that can only be achieved by learning about human lives fundamentally different from our own. With this in mind, the Spanish philosopher advocates a style of translating that brings out the peculiarities of the source culture in the target text: an approach that in contemporary translation theory is most commonly identified with Lawrence Venuti’s concept of “foreignizing”.
José Ortega y Gasset
In this fourth part of his essay, Ortega y Gasset uses the voice of an anonymous French linguist to propound a theory of languages as “anachronistic instruments”, as different catalogues of classifications that impose a system of understanding reality that was constructed by our forebears, making us “hostages to the past”. Although this section deals more generally with language than specifically with translation, the ideas set out here are fundamental for understanding Ortega y Gasset’s perspective on the importance of translation, which will be set forth in the fifth and final part of the essay.