September 30th was International Translation Day! International Translation Day is a day set aside to celebrate translators and translation. It coincides with the feast day of St. Jerome, the patron saint of translators. Naturally, it’s also one of our favorite holidays here at K International. In honor of the occasion, we’ve put together a list of thought-provoking quotes about the fine art of translation. Enjoy!
- “Nothing which is harmonized by the bond of the Muse can be changed from its own to another language without destroying its sweetness.” — Dante
- “Poetry is what gets lost in translation.” Robert Frost
- “The first rule of translation: make sure you know at least one of the bloody languages!” –Faiz Ahmad Faiz
- “Translation is the art of failure.” –Umberto Eco
- “In translation language facility is not enough; blood and sweat are the secret.” —Samuel Putnam
- “Translation is like a woman. If it is beautiful, it is not faithful. If it is faithful, it is most certainly not beautiful.” –Yevgeny Yevtushenko
- “Not everyone who knows how to write can be a writer. Not everyone who knows two languages can be a translator.” ― Nataly Kelly
- “It is normally supposed that something always gets lost in translation; I cling, obstinately to the notion that something can also be gained.” ― Salman Rushdie
- “Translation from one language into another…is like gazing at a Flemish tapestry with the wrong side out.” – Cervantes
Some of these quotes imply that translations always sound bad. We don’t think that’s true, of course. A well-done translation will convey both the meaning of the original work and the feeling behind it. However, it’s certainly not an easy task to accomplish!
Which one is your favorite? Do you have any more to add? Let us know in the comments!