Wilde, Tolstoy, Kafka, Dostoevsky, Rushdie, Bukowski … Banana Yoshimoto … no matter who your favourite writer is – they have all been translated!
So let’s say your mother tongue is English and you love Tolstoy’s uncomplicated style and careful semantic constructions. Are you aware that what you are reading is only a translation? That it is only a close copy of Tolstoy’s original art?
Of course, incredible care has been taken rendering it into English. It has been closely analysed, proofread and reviewed a good number of times. But, at the end of the day, it’s still just a copy. And as similar as it may be to the original, it could be the style is not quite the same, certain little nuances may have not been captured or some literary images may have been localised in order to make them understandable to the target audience.
Lucky those whose mother tongue is Russian. They are able to enjoy Tolstoy’s masterpieces in all their magnitude. But then, on the other hand, they will not be able to enjoy Shakespeare’s literary insights without the filter of translation or savour Kafka’s majestic wordplays.
Indeed, Kafka is an interesting case in point. Some of the first translations of Kafka’s works into English are notorious for not being very exact and for distorting the reader’s experience of the novelist. Kafka in the original German wrote very long sentences with a multitude of subordinate clauses, and these are very hard (if not impossible) to render in English. Translators have to find a way of ensuring the effect desired in the original is replicated in the translated text.
As our services are B2B focused, we usually don’t translate these kind of texts. But we do have to deal with similar issues in order to ensure that your message hits your audience with the desired effect.