Translate or Paraphrase?

October 19, 2011

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5 Responses to “Translate or Paraphrase?”

  1. Automatic translations are the technical equivalent of Auden’s bad readers. Any Catalan mothertonguer would be totally puzzled by what you offer us if he or she is unable to understand what the British American poet really meant. Poor writers, bad readers and awful translators (and their opposite of course) are an eternal human breed; they already existed in Plato’s times. The real question is if automatic translation machines will be eternally incompetent as some humans are. If one day they the cybernetically retarded Google translator starts to think the way humans do the world will be a bore.

  2. rogerevans said

    Don’t you see that that was the whole point? I included a literal, automatic translation to illustrate Auden’s point about inappropriate translating.

  3. Of course I do, amic meu, I just tried to elaborate a bit on your point 😉

  4. rogerevans said

    On second thought, I’ve gone back and looked at that translation. I am not a “Catalan mothertonguer,” but I have been reading Catalan regularly for more than two decades and in fact read it daily. As I read the translation here, Auden’s meaning comes through to me with clarity.

  5. Hi again. You’re probably right: I must admit that the conclusion of Auden’s argument is somewhat clear in Catalan, but I still believe that the introductory premise of it (Per llegir és traduir, per experiències que no hi ha dues persones són les mateixes) could puzzle the Catalan reader due to the odd double presence of preposition “per” (“to”) which usually accompanies English infinitives (“to read”, “to translate”) but should have been suppresed in the Catalan translation. I’m not a Catalan mothertonguer either but I have been exposed to the language since my childhood and I know enough of it to feel when something is wrong.
    Let me introduce a new element in this discussion: as a Latin language Catalan shares a structural logic with other sister languages as Spanish, French, Portuguese or Italian, whereas the English logic is West Germanic and quite different. I think that bilingual or multilingual people (especially if they know languages of different stock, as it is our case) have acquired the unconsciuos capacity to “bridge” these different kinds of logic and that’s why you’re able to understand a weird gramatical construction that probably would confuse a monolingual Catalan speaker. But I could be wrong.

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