5 Tips for Handling Literary Translation.

What is Literary Translation?

Literary translation is surely one of the most exciting and compelling endeavors that you could encounter during your education.  This is certain because you are now becoming more aware of the theory and process behind many of the texts, movies, and video games that you enjoy today.  Translation is a paraphrase, a version, or an adaptation of the author’s original work.  When considering literary translation, the translator – that would be you, brilliant one – helps to expand the world of those speaking the target language and target culture.   Translators like yourselves promote intercultural exchange, while sharing the knowledge of great thinkers throughout history.  Not only in texts, but in film also.  Take for instance, George Lucas’ Star Wars films, which were inspired by Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurosawa’s 1958 film, The Hidden Fortress.  At this point, it’s only right that we consider these forces to help arrange the top 5 ways to master literary translation.

1. Believe in Yourself.


As a beginning translator in your high school Language Arts class, say to yourself, “I’m not afraid.”  Only you, translator, can realize that you have the craft and skills to triumph in the art of translation. Translation can be an exceptionally fun and rewarding experience.  The more you practice your reading and writing, the more successful you will become as a translator.  So, think about the work that you would like to translate, and select the piece that you would like to conquer.  Remember, never tell yourself about the odds of taking on this task.  You, brilliant ones, can do this.


2.  Perform a Close Reading of the Text.

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A close reading of a text is an in-depth literary analysis of the text you are translating.  Sure, this may all be technical language when it comes to having fun with translation, but let’s remember the basics first.  In order to make this an enjoyable task, consider that as long your chosen text is one that you truly enjoy, a close reading will allow you to discover new meanings that you may have missed before.


  3.  Step into Your Destiny, and Do Your Research.

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You are never doubted!  Think of it this way, William Shakespeare has chosen you to translate his 17th century text, Macbeth, into your very own 21st Century intralingual translated version.  How cool is that?  So imagine the trust and confidence Shakespeare has placed in you, the translator, to bring his text into a modern context.  When doing so, do a little digging about the text to make sure your meaning is closely related to Shakespeare’s meaning.  This would involve researching the author, the historical context, as well as the meaning of the words and language that was used during the late-16th and early-17th centuries.  Be sure to search for your feelings so that your voice can be heard in your version also.  Remember, the target audience must be considered when writing your translated version to ensure the culture will receive anyour version of the original text.


4.  Start Your Writing.

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Forget the old phrase that dismisses translation, “Traduttore, Traditore“, which translates from Italian to English – “translator, traitor.”  No, you are not a traitor.  This simply challenges the possibility of translation, and questions if it really shows the truth in the author’s original work. But how then, with translators like yourself, could we begin to read texts written by Franz Kafka, Homer, or Plato to name a few?  Regardless of the criticism, you too will find their lack in faith of translation disturbing.  So, write with all your might in what you believe your selected author is trying to convey, and combine your voice with the author’s voice to bring the text’s source language into the target language.


5.  Turn in Your Finished Masterpiece.

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After you have reread the text, your research, and proofread your content, the circle is now complete.  You’ve made choices and negotiations about what to include, modify, or eliminate in your translated version.  You, translator, have handled this task like a boss.  Remember, the force is with you, and as long as  you have a clear target language and culture in mind, you have already made this all too easy.  You have written a a version that the author themselves would written if they were living in your time period and culture.  Yeah, you’re a real hero.

You have recreated a work of art.

Translation helps to bring key texts in history, literature, science, and even math across cultural and historical borders.  You have helped extend the life of these authors and texts, while developing upon your own creative writing skills. Consider yourself a visionary for your desire to share what you have learned about an author, text, time period, cultural experiences, or language – all before graduating high school!  Rock on students, rock on.

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Aarhus University. School of Communication and Culture. n.d. Web. 08 03 2017.
ALTA Language Services. Beyond Words – Language Blog. n.d. Web. 08 03 2017.
IMDb.com. IMDb. n.d. Web. 08 03 2017.
Oxford University Press. Oxford Living Dictionaries. n.d. Web. 07 03 2017.





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