Translation is a phenomenon that has a huge effect on our day-to-day life. In simple terms, translation is the transmittal of a written text from one language into another. The terms translation and interpretation are often interchanged, but by definition, translation refers to written language, and interpretation to the spoken word. Now-a-days, translation plays a crucial role in every field such as literature, tourism, business, technology, religion, science and so on. The process of translation is, indeed, an art as it involves in conveying the ideas of the source text. It needs mastery to convey the exact meaning of what is expressed in one language into another and requires an intimate knowledge of both the languages concerned. The kinds of translation include literal, modified literal, idiomatic and unduly free translations. Translation has been a dynamic language firm, and only with careful training one can meet the translational challenges posed by a given language. If translation is an art, it is not an easy one. It is both estimable and very difficult. Hence, this paper analyses how translators transmit the ideas rather than transmitting mere words.

Key words: transmittal, interpretation, art, intimate knowledge, dynamic language firm, translational challenges.

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Translation is that which transforms everything so that nothing changes.

–        Giinter Grass


The world is a storehouse of huge literature written in various languages, which reach other languages through translation. Despite its numerous difficulties at various levels including linguistic, cultural and stylistic approaches, people have always resorted to translation to convey a message from one language to another. Furthermore, some of the most important books are only available or only known to the general public, in their translations.  The contemporary world realizes that translation is not just a way of converting words into other words but it’s a very crucial and complicated art of explaining things. A translator tries to explore something new each moment, yet delivers the actual meaning of the source text without affecting the origin. Translation, in its broader sense, transports one culture to the other across the ages.  

Supposing that we wish to travel all over the world to understand different cultural values, we will have to interact with different people of different places. What if we don’t understand their language nor they do ours? Is it not impossible to understand or exchange various cultures without appreciating each other’s views on cultural significance? Precisely, won’t we be at complete loss if we don’t realize the importance of translation? Further, it is most significant for every nation to maintain a proper interchange of information, technology and everything else, which is impossible without a translation service. For instance, if there is no way of understanding each other’s languages then how things will turn out to be? Thanks to the translators! Today, we can communicate in a number of languages and appreciate their historical and cultural descriptions.

Moving to the economy, all the multinational companies would have been in a huge loss if they would have ignored the vitality of translation and the power of lingual differences. Many companies are the biggest examples of how trade is done in other countries with the help of translations. India wouldn’t have been a leading economy if it wouldn’t have adopted translators in different languages.  

 However, translating literary works is a complicated task that is full of challenges. It is necessary to properly research the work in question and consider the eventual readers to achieve a good translation. Just as the objective of literary studies is to enhance or increase the knowledge of various aspects of literature like what is relationship between literature and society or history for instance, the purpose of translation studies is to enhance or increase the knowledge of various aspects of translation like, what is relationship between translation and society or history. Translation in the past was very difficult, because translators would depend upon only the dictionaries to translate the words into another language and it would take long time when they were looking for the other words. However with the technological advances, translation has been really progressed, and there are different facilities including online programs of translation. Example: Google translator, which makes translation faster and easier.

Of all the kinds of translations, the literal translation gained lots of prominence as it closely follows the form and style of the source language. In other words a literal translation is called word for word translation. It is always agreed that literal translation is the best technique for translating texts in which form is as important as content. Auto-biographies, great speeches and other literary works are rich in form and content and they tend to be translated word for word.

But on the flip side of the coin, literal translation sometimes misses some of the meanings of those forms as it merely focusses on the form. It has to be understood that meaning is to be found in cultural, and historical contexts; influences of speaker-hearer; relationships among words, phrases, idiomatic uses of words; but not just in the forms of individual words. The other kind of translation i.e., the Idiomatic translation, translates the meaning of the original quite accurately and naturally into forms and preserves the meaning of the original forms.  While Idiomatic translation is loosely based on the common language of the average speakers, modified literal translation strictly follows the grammatical rules of the target language. With the extra resources, unduly free translation strays too far from the original meaning of the source text and follows the thought-to-thought approach. 

 As a subject, translation is defined as all the processes and methods used to convey meaning of the source language into the target language by preserving semantic and stylistic equivalent text in a second language. It is the replacement of a representation of a text in one language by a representation of an equivalent text in a second language. Most of the important literary or critical texts can be read only through translation. Without translations we cannot even read important works in other global languages. Well, translation of literature works starts much before the first words are converted into another language. A proper translation procedure begins with finding out all about the literary piece. A translator must recognize and take into account what the author wants to convey through a certain literary work. To understand this deeply, it is important to study the cultural, social and historical contexts in which it was written, because the message is often related in and around them. A translator should respect the style of the authors. He/she should follow the original work’s patterns. Formal or informal, comic or serious, and dramatic or epic styles and the other genres should be preserved in translation.

There is no doubt that literature translation is complicated and requires concentration; however, a good translation is an invitation to enjoy an adventure through literature. But the problematic factors include form, style, meaning, proverbs, idioms, etc. To a great extent the quality of translation depends on the quality of translator, i.e, his knowledge, skills, training, cultural background, expertise, and even mood. Translation was now considered a kind of creative writing, no less worthy of respect than original literature.

The translator was regarded as a rival of the source-text author. Translations were expected to meet high literary standards and even to surpass the source text in terms of artistic quality. To be precise, translating is the ultimate job for people, who love language. Translation requires superior language ability in at least two languages. Translators need to understand the cultures of both the source and target languages, in order to be able to adapt the language to the appropriate culture. Precisely, the ability to speak two or more languages does not make an individual a good translator in every case. Simply put though, a translator’s job is to take the material, interpret it, and make sure that it comes off the same way in the other language. The work that needs to be done requires a great bit of language understanding to make sure that everything comes out properly, otherwise the translation can be complete nonsense.  The study of translation has been dominated, and to a degree still is, by the debate about the status as an art or a science. Translation, indeed, can be considered to be both an art and a science. It has made inter-linguistic communication between borders possible. Theoretically one can consider translation a science, but practically, it seems rational to consider it an art.

To conclude with, I would say that translation is not a matter of words only. It is, indeed, a matter of making a whole culture intelligible. It is basically an art because many problems in translation including the linguistic and the cultural depend on practice. Many consider that translations must be a faithful adaptation of content from the source language to the target language. Well, a good translation always fulfills the same function in the target language as it does in the source language and the translators should be able to improve the final result with their own style and adapt it to the readers’ own culture.