Question by Brigit: How to determine what is the better translation?
HiI’m doing English literature at university level and on my exam I will be given an Old English passage with two modern English translation. Then I need to write an essay about which translation I consider best and why.To what should I be paying attention?I don’t want to be saying over and over again: I think this is a better way of saying it. Or translator 2 translated several words wrong. Making a list of mistakes does not make a good essay.What are valid reasons to prefer one translation over the other?Thanks
Answer by frockney
Translation skills are not just about getting words translated correctly, though this is an important aspect.What’s important is also the overall aspect, the style (ie, if the original is written in colloquial style, then the translation should be colloquial, if in elevated style, then the translation should also use the corresponding register).Sometimes words mean different things in different contexts, this should also be taken into account. The translation should be fluent and not read like a translation.When all things (proper register, correct lexical translation, correct phrasal translation, right style) are right, then the choice of words should be looked at. The translator should use a thesaurus to make sure he uses the most suited word for the overall appearance of the final text.
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