Sunday, February 15, 2009

Translators as Readers

I like to think I’m always a fairly close reader, but I’ve noticed over the years that I seem to get more out of a text when I’m translating it. That’s not really surprising, considering how translators have to pay close attention to every aspect of a text in terms of both meaning and form, but it does make me wonder how translators develop such good reading skills and whether this can be taught, and also whether translators might in some situations make better critics than those who don’t work with language in the same way (obviously, some writers, too, may be good critics, but there are plenty of people who write book reviews but do not seem to have much writing or translating experience themselves).

4 comments:

Judy and Dagmar Jenner said...

Good question/point/discussion topic. I do agree that translators are of course thorough readers, and it's certainly an acquired skill. Just like you, I am a voracious reader, and a very quick one, too; which sometimes makes me worry that I am not retaining as much as I would like to. However, when I translate, I am forced to read slower and more thorough. And yes, translators are good book critics. :) My twin is one and hilariously enough, well-known authors will contact her to discuss what she's written about their work -- very cool.

We are adding your fabulous blog to our blog roll -- long overdue!

B.J. Epstein said...

Thanks for your comment (though I am not sure which of you two wrote it!). Some of the texts I translate I really would rather rush through and some of the texts I read I wish I were translating so I can enjoy them more and get more out of them.
I'm adding your blog to my list as well!

Best wishes,
BJ

a transaltor said...

Most critics(outsider) on translation focus on just one aspect, which usually stands for their own personal point of view. Those critics could be very persuasive for those who don't work as translators, however, if considering of more aspect, those could be very prejudiced view.
Unfortunately, translators always have no chances in defending themselves

B.J. Epstein said...

That is one reason why I think more translators should critique translated fiction -- they know what is involved and what to focus on in a review.

Best wishes,
BJ