For Meredith McKinney, translations must be ‘as natural as breathing’

By: Catharine Cellier-Smart

Interview with the Australian translator of classical Japanese literature Meredith McKinney

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/culture/2020/12/12/books/for-meredith-mckinney-translation/

Comments about this article


For Meredith McKinney, translations must be ‘as natural as breathing’

Peter Motte  Identity Verified
বেলজিয়াম
Local time: 10:34
2009 থেকে সদস্য
‍ইংরেজি থেকে ডাচ
+ ...
Too much a rule for literature Dec 31, 2020

This is one of those slogans that resist dying out, but that are far too general and because of that superficial to be true in all situations.
A translation shouldn't be unreadable, but "as natural as breathing" is a concept which penetrated translation from the field of literature.
Science, technology and law are completely different.
The message should be unambiguous, not necessarily a pleasure to read.


Dan Lucas
P.L.F.Persio
Sabine Braun
Philip Lees
Mark
Teresa Borges
Gerard Barry
 

Dan Lucas  Identity Verified
যুক্তরাজ্য
Local time: 09:34
2014 থেকে সদস্য
জাপানি থেকে ‍ইংরেজি
A different discipline Dec 31, 2020

Peter Motte wrote:
A translation shouldn't be unreadable, but "as natural as breathing" is a concept which penetrated translation from the field of literature. Science, technology and law are completely different.

Agreed. The requirements are very different, and I imagine those who translate literature alone would struggle, if asked, to deal with the stringencies of commercial translation. But maybe such translators do not exist? Surely very few can hope to make a comfortable living from literary translation.

The message should be unambiguous, not necessarily a pleasure to read.

The message should be unambiguous if the source is unambiguous. If the source is ambiguous, so should be the target text!

Regards,
Dan


Beatriz Ramírez de Haro
P.L.F.Persio
Vi Pukite
Philip Lees
Teresa Borges
Yves Champollion
 

Tom in London
যুক্তরাজ্য
Local time: 09:34
2008 থেকে সদস্য
‍ইটালিয়ান থেকে ‍ইংরেজি
In-out Jan 1

Well - I'm breathing. That's a start!

P.L.F.Persio
Kay Denney
Oriol Vives
 

Maxi Schwarz  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:34
জার্মান থেকে ‍ইংরেজি
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this quote Jan 2

"You need to get your translation as good as you can and then put it away for a time so it is no longer too familiar."

Try doing that when the client has a genuine emergency and needs the translation by a given date or time. That important meeting is about to take place, they still don't have your translation so they frantically call you up. "It's resting." you say, "It needs time to breathe, you know." Client loses his project and maybe job, while you smilingly hand him the perfect,
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"You need to get your translation as good as you can and then put it away for a time so it is no longer too familiar."

Try doing that when the client has a genuine emergency and needs the translation by a given date or time. That important meeting is about to take place, they still don't have your translation so they frantically call you up. "It's resting." you say, "It needs time to breathe, you know." Client loses his project and maybe job, while you smilingly hand him the perfect, breathing translation that is useless to him now.

I think what bugs me is the "advice to translators" part. Ofc the author of the article might have put it that way.

Everything depends on what kind of text you are translating in what kind of circumstance for what reason. Certainly you do have to look at a complete translation with fresh eyes and have some distance to it during the revision. But mostly you can't put away a translation for a while, because the modern industry doesn't work that way.
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Dan Lucas
Chris S
Jorge Payan
Philip Lees
Peter Motte
Teresa Borges
Daryo
 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
নেদারল্যান্ড
Local time: 10:34
2006 থেকে সদস্য
‍ইংরেজি থেকে আফ্রিকানস
+ ...
So, what are we discussing? Jan 2

So, are we discussing the heading of this blog post, which was created by some random, underpaid, late-night subeditor who took a quick peek at the text of the post before heading home for the weekend, or should we discuss what the author had actually said? She said "You have to be able to ... bring out [the meaning] in some other form that is as natural as breathing in your own language." She never said (nor implied, as far as I can tell) that "translations must be as natural as breathing".

 

Chris S  Identity Verified
যুক্তরাজ্য
সুইডিশ থেকে ‍ইংরেজি
+ ...
Time to breathe Jan 2

You’ve got a point there Maxi, definitely, but the kinds of texts that really need that time to marinate will normally have been weeks in the making before they get to the translator, which means that the canny client will have consulted you long ago and factored in enough time for you to work your slow magic.

I like to think that the translations I churn out day in, day out on the production line aren’t too shoddy, but the ones I get given the time and funds to lavish extra speci
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You’ve got a point there Maxi, definitely, but the kinds of texts that really need that time to marinate will normally have been weeks in the making before they get to the translator, which means that the canny client will have consulted you long ago and factored in enough time for you to work your slow magic.

I like to think that the translations I churn out day in, day out on the production line aren’t too shoddy, but the ones I get given the time and funds to lavish extra special care on are in a different league.

Now that I’m entering the last decade of my working life, I can’t be doing with pressure and stress any more, and I’m making it my mission to convince more clients that this is the way to go.

I’m not holding my breath thoughicon_wink.gif
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Philip Lees
 

Chris S  Identity Verified
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সুইডিশ থেকে ‍ইংরেজি
+ ...
@Samuel Jan 2

Samuel Murray wrote:
She never said (nor implied, as far as I can tell) that "translations must be as natural as breathing".

Samuel, I can’t see the difference. Can you explain how you understand it please? (It isn’t the most elegant or, dare I say, natural of sentences!)


 

Kay Denney  Identity Verified
ফ্রান্স
Local time: 10:34
2018 থেকে সদস্য
ফেঞ্চ/ফরাসি থেকে ‍ইংরেজি
. Jan 2

Well Chris, Samuel specified "breathing in your own language". I'm now trying to breathe in all the various languages I speak, to see what difference it makes.

Chris S
Dan Lucas
Teresa Borges
Eugenia Rey
Peter Motte
 

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