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The Difficult Task of Translating Proverbs

There is no doubt that as translators we face constant challenges while doing our job. An example would be, while translating literary works we may come across more than one cultural obstacle for which we must have an answer to. Amongst these cultural obstacles, we find proverbs to be quite the challenge.

Through proverbs, cultures can express social, economic, and also political characteristics and while some have been invented long before our time, they may still be considered up to date and we might still apply them in our daily conversations.

However, when it comes to translating such idioms, the task can be more complex than just a literal translation. Finding an equivalent in the languages you’re translating into is not always the case, and replacing by something that sounds natural, that flows and additionally conveys the same message will not be an easy task to accomplish.

There are countries that in fact share common cultural similarities and thus have the equivalent from one language to the other. But when this is not the case and translators must find a creative but rather culturally relevant way of conveying the same, this is where the translating skills become handy along with the cultural knowledge of the languages that as translator we believe we know so well.