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Translating or Writing?

The old saying tells us that translators are privileged readers. However, I think we may venture to argue that, rather than mere readers, translators are privileged writers.

Unless we rely simply on copying and translating the source text word for word, the task of a good translation is not straightforward. Did she take a seat or did she sit down? These are the kinds of questions translators constantly ask ourselves.

Translators make decision after decision in the maze of language and present a final product, something that they create word by word.

However, unlike what happens with the original text, translations are always compared. And this comparison is a burden that translators must carry on their shoulders with every new work. Because of this, translators (in addition to translating) ask ourselves a series of questions that the original author never had to consider: have I reproduced the idea? Have I kept the tone, the music, the style? If the author had written this in English, would they have phrased it like this?

Likewise, if there are errors in the original document, it is the translator’s job to correct them. Although the field of translation there is no perfect solution, as is likely to occur in the exact sciences, we always aspire to excellence in the final product. Even, among the most daring of translators, there remains a desire to outdo the original text.

Because of all this is that we can say that, rather than simply translating, translators rewrite. And, in the best of cases, become, in turn, writers.

(Versión en español: