立場新聞 Stand News

Ask a Translator with Daniel Hahn

2016/9/1 — 20:14

(Text by Daniel Hahn)

In normal circumstances, then, it’s not my job to make the book better.

We’re bringing you the latest meditations on translation from acclaimed author, editor and translator Daniel Hahn. In “Ask a Translator,” he answers burning questions from readers about the gritty details of his chosen career. Today Daniel responds to Asymptote reader Tony Liang from Beijing, China.

廣告

Do you think the translator should be allowed to edit the text he translates?

It is not my job to change a text I’m translating. Indeed, my aim at its most essential is exactly the opposite: to focus all the ingenuity I have on figuring out specifically how to change nothing, how to give my publisher precisely the book we started with—not abridged or corrected or improved, but my best attempt at keeping it just the same, the language changed but nothing else. To rewrite the text in entirely new words while seeking to have as little of my own collateral effect on it as I possibly can. Leaving aside the fact that that’s impossible (because even as it keeps things the same, the process of translation is also changing everything), that’s the intention, that’s what we like to pretend is happening. Maintaining structural, narrative, tonal integrity, if you like, and faking it with all the rest.

廣告

In normal circumstances, then, it’s not my job to make the book better. It’s not my job to make the book more palatable to a reader. It’s not my job to fact-check a book and correct its mistakes and inconsistencies. My job is to write the same book. That’s the general idea.

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