Monday, May 7, 2012

Translation is transmission

Michel Foucault said that he who holds the language holds the power -- and that is why translators are the people who are changing the world, and have been doing so for centuries. Millennia, even. It is not enough to posses knowledge, it is important to be able to transmit that knowledge, to share it, to teach it. The problem is that not everybody will be able to understand this knowledge, unless they, too, are in possession of the skills necessary to understand.

Translation is not just a matter of identifying the word in the source language and replacing it with the equivalent in the target language. If that were so, we translators (and I dare now include interpreters as well) would have proven to be obsolete in the late 1980s. Our success, our importance to the world, even, is the task that we perform, the impossible that we achieve: we are able to find the perfect oxymoronic juxtaposition of faithfulness and beauty in a target language from a source language.

Yes, we are geniuses. And I salute us. I salute my colleagues who have studied and learned and gone beyond the minimum requirements and survived the poor payments and bad treatments. I salute my friends who hold the power granted by polyglotism and suffer due to calloused fingertips and soar throats. Yes, my friends -- we are geniuses, and we, while holding the language, hold the power.

I invite you to read what my friend and colleague Rachel Eadie (English, Spanish, Italian) has published in the The Prisma, a multicultural UK newspaper:

The New Spanish Criminal
Photography Exhibition featuring Sex Workers
Alighiero Boetti at the Tate Modern

If you are in need a professional translation, please do not hesitate to contact me. I am sure I will be able to introduce you to a very talented translator in your area. Should your area be Germany or Colombia, I am your go-to person. 

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