Here in Leximania we are proud to present one more translation, this time from an original Dr. Kentrotis text (first published in Ιδεογραφία, January 2012 issue). The translation was done by Alexandros Tsantilas. You can click here to see the original Greek text, or you can click at the following link to get the translation memory export that contains this text. Feel free to leave comments for us. Enjoy!
*Update: We want to sincerely thank Mr. Kentrotis for sending us his amended original. We have also updated the translation memory export of this translation project.
SPEAKING ABOUT TRANSLATION
By Georgios Kentrotis
Translation can be regarded as a science up to the point where its end product –each and every individual translatum- can be approached in a scientific manner and can thus be described using the generally applying rules of its familiar science, which is none other than Linguistics. It should be remarked, though, that translation itself is not a science –and it can never be one- as regards the elaboration of rules about the process of translation that will also be universally and diachronically applicable. This can be explained by the fact that the process of translation utilizes merely one and only constant, which is the original text, and an unknown yet enormous number of parameters that leave their decisive mark upon the translatum and which concern –both indicatively and coarsely- on the one hand the time, the place and the conditions of the translating process, and on the other hand the personality of the particular translator. However, even the constant of the existent and unchangeable original dismisses its immutability by the time it is defined on account of how the particular translator reads the text, since the reading varies from one natural translator to another, as the case may be regarding the type of text intended for translation.
The translating process, which holds linguistic aptitude as a requirement, tends to result in the articulation of linguistic effectuations whose character is strictly individual: Each and every time they are articulated, these linguistic effectuations merely concern the specific translator, since no translating community has ever operated, nor it will ever operate, within the midst of a linguistic community. The translator is a unit. There can be no collective translation, the very idea of it can only be a singularity –but even then, the role of the unitary translator is being played by the resultant of the expressed consent of translators as regards the final translatum.
There are numerous definitions of translation, a fact that automatically means that translation itself doesn’t have a generally applying definition. That dry and all-too-narrow definition that considers translation to be the written transfer of an existing text from one natural language to another natural language is both an insufferable banality and at the same time, a very faithful depiction of the truth. As tasteless as this definition may be, it does succeed with its austerity to confirm its accuracy regarding all things translational. If one can add something to it, without ruining its roundness, then that something would be the following: Translation is, on the one hand, all about a text drafted in a source language, but on the other hand, translation is carried out in accordance with the rules of the target language. However, given that this final phrase is not axiomatic, one can say that its power extends as far as the expression “as a rule” allows it to. Should one want to be aphoristic, albeit without drifting off too far from the truth, then one would say that translation is “the work of a translator”. Nevertheless, the innate platonicity of that aphorism has enough space to include a great multitude of approaches, even those that are most heterogeneous, ranging from the marxial historical-materialistic social substantiality of a text in a language other than the language it was originally drafted to, to the wittgensteinian linguistic and wanton consolidation of a linguistic struggle –as long as we can find the perfect for the job translator, scientist and technician, who will be a resourceful operator of the already existing lexical tools, and who will also happen to be a deviser of new means that will facilitate (for him) the rearticulation of the older original text to a new translatum, in order to effectively communicate new linguogenic products, already familiar to the source audience, to the audience of the target language.
This way, the translator not only becomes industrious and shaper of linguistic goods from one language to another, but also becomes the catalyst of the necessary “chemical” reaction that must take place every time two languages come in contact with one another. The fact that someone may know a language –regardless of how good that knowledge is- does not mean that this person is automatically qualified to be a translator. The requirement of having a thorough knowledge of the foreign language is not questioned, although at the same time, the translator must also have plenty of other skills that stretch far beyond the simply good knowledge of another language. The translator must know and view the foreign language from the perspective of his mother tongue’s linguistic system, and must also be able to perform syntactic correlations, to recognize pragmatic data, to invent stylistic responses, and to serve both the occasional resourcefulness without using ready-made devices, as well as the equivalence of the original text and the translatum by activating decodifications of the original text material and by coordinating its recodifications in the translatum, paying particular attention to the overall nexus of the source culture and the wider possibilities that it may provide to the translator.
Either way, with all of the above, translation as both process and end result can be nothing other than a cultural random event, a consolidation of the alien language text to a domestic and talking linguistic text that speaks the language of and communicates in the language of the talking subject called “particular translator”.
The ideal translator does not exist; neither does translation needs the ideal translator (if this is a correct way of saying it). Neither exists such a being as an omnitranslator. The only thing that exists is simply the particular translator, the individually talking and translating subject, which motivates a cultural manifestation with a primary end goal, regardless of how that goal will express itself, and many other goals on the side which are almost never visible. Expressing himself through the translation, the translator is also expressed as a talking subject, who moreover intervenes (as if by playing) with his linguistic instrument and its given capabilities in an already shaped reality, in order to change that reality. The game of translation doesn’t just include the translator’s neological contributions, as one might very easily and readily assume, but also each and every one of the translator’s logical actions, be they successful or unfortunate, correct or mistaken, regular or exceptional, within the pile of vocabularizations or merely one time only, etc.
Each translation, as a material translatum, provides the linguist a wealth of linguistic achievements that weren’t primal products, but were created due to the occasion of a primarily produced text. The linguist, other than performing any and all kinds of comparative relations, has to face the result of an interlingual dialogue and is called to assess that dialogue in whole or in part, depending on the orientation of the linguist’s scientific interests. However, regardless of the chosen direction, the starting point can be none other than each and every word included in the translatum, both separately and interwoven within the textural product of which it is a constituent, as well as in its reference to the essential cultural environment in which it is accepted as a factual interpretation of a specific foreign word, phrase, or proposition.
Translation is a universal practice, already many centuries old. It’s just that during the last decades, translation has moved completely out of the standards of specialized interest or “scientific” occupation, however much “scientific” as it can be considered, and has become both profession and productive process. Nevertheless, it is still of scientific interest. The complexity of its character intimidates only the naïve and the unaware. The self-collected researchers of the translation phenomenon know that translational “mistakes” pose no threat whatsoever to the target language, since they realize that there are plenty of mistakes (added to the translational ones) that have become a part of the language’s usage without disturbing the user’s linguistic sentiment. Just as they already know that no language is threatened by the introduction of alien forms of syntax by means of translation, since the foreignized domestication by translation and subsequent rejection of those forms that aren’t successful in blending with the usage further simplifies things. Incessant change is a law of life, hence a law of language. Translation contributes to that change by depositing lexical (see: cultural) wealth that can either be invested and produce results, or it can be spent without any effects. The most important thing is to have linguistic money, and to keep that money flowing. In normal circumstances, that is all that is needed, and everything else can be either taken into consideration, or simply be omitted without any damage done whatsoever.