Usually we’re here concerned with the utilitarian aspects of translation. How does a Hmong patient, for example, best learn more about foot care with diabetes, post-op care or child immunization schedules?
This week let’s take a step off the path and consider the artistic aspects of the translator’s job. In this New York Times piece, “Building Something Together’: Translators Discuss Their Art,” five translators describe the joys and frustrations of turning literature from other languages into English.
Literary translators have often gone unrecognized, and the profession has never been much of a route to wealth. Yet, as the Times observes, “The act of carrying a work from one language to another — an art as much as a craft — is anything but mechanical: Translators’ choices are informed by their sensibilities, their emotional landscape, their background.”