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VOL - 5 / 2014 - APR

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The translator - “the servant of two masters”: relections on the act of translation based on irst hand experience


Taking the reader to the author or the author to the reader? Serving the source language in all of its aspects or rather committing yourself to the deprovincialization of the native language? Being uncomprimisingly loyal to the original or betraying a little for the sake of beauty in reading? Keeping to the ambition of perfect translation or subjecting yourself to a re-translation? These have always been and perhaps continue to be some of the dilemmas that have historically accompanied the translator of a written text, be it a literary, a philosophical or a poetic one. Perhaps the expression “the servant of two masters” attributed to the translator would undramatize the above described situation. The universally acknowledged equation “to understand means to translate” has never provided a inal solution to the big enigma of the translation art, which is also the greatest aspiration of any professional in the ield - the perfect text. Translation is one of the most intellectual theoratical and practical jobs which also entails a huge ethical problem. Different scholars in the ield of linguistic philosophy have elaborated on the problems emerging in this process, which are of a psychological, anthropological, semiological and philosophical nature. This paper aims at providing some relections on some of the above mentioned dilemmas, particularly on the anxious pursuit of “perfection” by the translator, which often results in damaging the inal product, i.e. the translation. This paper will be based on authors like Ricoeur, Berman, Détienne, Eco, etc., and the personal experience gained in the process of translating writers like Umberto Eco, Nicolò Machiavelli, Andrea Camilleri.


Translation; Translatability/untranslatability; Language systems; Cultural diversity; Perfectionism



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