A very controversial matter : “ Is a translator a bit of a deceiver?”

The main question for the person choosing the  job of transposing cultures and idioms and who likes to name himself “translator”  if only he  picks up a pen and opens a dictionary, is: < How can I translate in a neutral but understandable way for my culture?>  and do this without being tempted, both for clarity sake and for unconscious spurt of self-esteem, of putting something personal in it, sometimes by  cutting off, some others by enriching and deepening  the job of someone else. Both ways lead to a system where the translator involves his personal decision giving birth to something different from the original text and therefore in a certain way, for better or for worse betraying  his “mission” as well as profession. It’s a risk that must be run, strictly connected to this job.

Who decides to be a translator, knows  it and this puts pepper and value into the not easy challenge to make oneself understandable, honest , true and clear both in the language and in the feelings to the whole world.

As Mr. Eco states, betrayal is in any case , implied in the act of translating which is not only  bridging a culture to another but also adapting ideas and pre-existing concepts to changed or new at all backgrounds.

The philosopher Tullio Gregory underlines the fundamental importance of the translator’s job.

He is, often and unfairly, considered to play a minor role for an old prejudice about their job not being original.

On the contrary nothing could be falser, when one is good in this job, for the  very statement, above reported that a certain level of originality is needed to overlap situations and aged  or only different ideas to cultural systems where they are  unfamiliar or even unknown .

But I love this job, as the craftsman his one. So, every translation is a bridge connecting far way worlds, even through winding paths and it’s like the work of a good craftsman.

It can be full of love and fidelity but at the same time also a little practice of freedom. Even if I think that sticking to the original text is a main factor, I do not believe that going word by word through it would bring to good results. Hard and tiresome it could be finding in my language a correspondence of concepts to other ones not belonging to my world and having no significance in it, when even non-sense, opening my mind  and looking for sameness and measure is a very stimulating exercise. Sure, being a writer or a poet yourself  helps in translating feelings in good words and passing the original message , blue-pencilling untranslatable words or changing them into others different from the original ones but making sense. Therefore, the thing must be taken as it is, without looking for hazardous explanations or “what’s ever is hidden behind. In fact, in spite of all the efforts to explain, the defence attorneys and the prosecutor ones , translating is just this: by hook or by crook, an imperfect act as Freedom itself.

(Isa Tamagnini)


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