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Translators or Creators?

While we may translate messages from third parties, we nevertheless do so with our own words. Indeed, it is this choice of symbols and meanings that constitutes a creation and gives translators the role of “co-authors.”

Translation as a creative action—that is, as co-authorship—is present by default in literary translation, which is impregnated with feelings that would not be transmitted if the professional in charge of the translation were not responsible for them. The clearest, and most complicated example of this is the translation of poetry. This is due to the fact that poetry is often branded as non-translatable, as it is born from feelings expressed in rhyme and plays on words that are very difficult to make coincide in a different language. Therefore, translators are obliged to make grammatical changes to conserve the spirit of the original message and, by adding creative value, become an architect of sorts.

The even more difficult task, as we discuss in the post Translating Poetry, is to discern up to what point the translator has the liberty to manipulate linguistic resources in order to transmit the meaning of the original message.

At the end of the day, it is the middle point between reproduction and creation, a chameleon-like role between “re-creator” and “co-creator” that defines the profession and nature of the translator.

To find out more about the interesting world of literary translation, visit our posts: Literary Translation vs. Technical Translation and What Are the Differences between Translation and Transcreation?