Bologna, 14 January 2014 – We would like to share an interesting read about the translation world and its valuable contribution in bridging the gap between peoples and cultures. In his article “Chi non traduce rinuncia a pensare” (Those who do not translate, do not think), Luciano Canfora, a classical philologist, historian and Italian essayist, offered an interesting reflection on the practice of translation, which appeared in the “Corriere della Sera” newspaper column, called: Il Club della Lettura (Literature Club).
Referring clearly to classical translation, Canfora perfectly analysed translators throughout the years, describing them perfectly. He argued that in the course of history, translation has been “the main engine of civil progress”. He also considered this practice as “mankind’s most authentic dialogue”.
The historian used a series of famous examples to explain to us how translation is first of all the “effort to understand […] an author”. He then continued to explain perfectly where the difficulties of this profession reside: “embracing a way of thinking” which precisely belongs to “other” people, who the translator must approach, overcoming hurdles such as different philosophy, thought, or geographical separation. Finally, by “filling the silences of the text” (that are acceptable to a culture and a population), the translator must, in fact, recreate a reality, in the mind, in the world of those who speak the language – or languages – in which he/she works.
Canfora also offers a valuable excerpt from Ortega’s essay, called The misery and splendour of translation, which we report below: “You cannot fully understand what wonderful reality language is – Ortega wrote – unless you start from the awareness that the language is made above all of silence. Unless a human being is prepared to listen, he/she would be unable to converse. Each language is a different equation between expressing oneself and silences. […] Every population keeps some things quiet in order to be able to say others. Because it would be impossible to say everything. Hence the enormous difficulty of translation: it consists in saying in one language precisely what the other tends to keep silent. But at the same time we can glimpse that aspect of translation that can be a magnificent challenge: the revelation of the secret borrowing that peoples and eras hide from each other.”
The effort to translate involves intuitive ability and a continuous, challenging transition “from understanding to creation of a text”. As a skilled tailor, the translator cuts, sews and creates in a “tailored” manner, thinking about the target group of his/her work. Here is the eternally temporary yet very useful commitment of every good translator.
Here is the link to Canfora’s article http://goo.gl/pjRU5K