The Importance of Reading Text in the Original Language

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The world is increasingly becoming a global village and this has led to an increase in translations of text. People share ideas globally and since there is no one language that is universally understood by everyone, translation has become essential. The translations are for business, religious, social and economic purposes. Translation has enabled the connection of the global economy and enabled individuals from different regions to carry out business. Religious groups are actively spreading their doctrines and in order to recruit people from different regions, they need to translate their text to the language of the region. There are many social media applications which connect people from all over the world hence the need for translation. In other instances, ancient texts written in ancient languages are being translated so that people can better understand the cultures of the ancient people. However, it is my opinion that text should always be studied in their original language.

Language can be learnt, an individual can be conversant with many languages. Just like a person is born into a community and with time they may adapt to other communities, this is the same case with language. Therefore, when an individual has interest in a text that is in a language different from theirs, they should learn the language. People do not make compromises in other sectors, therefore the languages should also not be compromised. It is true that translation has made it easier to study text in a foreign language and many people are happy to study text in a translated form. However, translated text losses its authenticity and sometimes the original meaning can be lost during translation. To acquire the original intended meaning of a text, it is often advisable to study it in the original language.

A serious reader gets anxious when they are subjected to reading text that has been translated. This is because factors such as metaphors and idioms cannot be well analyzed in the translated form. This are factors that hold meaning in a particular language, context or geographical location. However, when the text is translated and distributed throughout the world, the meaning is lost. This can lead to the partial or total loss of meaning of a text in cases where the direct translation of the text is done. It leaves the readers confused since the text might not make sense to them. There are cases where translators substitute this idioms and metaphors with similar ones that exist in the language they are translating to. Despite the assistance it offers in understanding, often, it is not easy to find an idiom or metaphor in a different language that holds the exact meaning. It is therefore advisable to study text in the original language so as to capture the authenticity and its intended meaning. It is also advisable to study the cultures to better understand the contexts.

Reading translated works translates to lack of scholarly rigor which is the lack of authentic analysis of the idioms and metaphors. It also shows the lack of education rigor whereby an individual is not willing to learn different languages. A true scholar should have education rigor to enable him/her learn different languages so as to directly have access to more direct access to texts written in different languages. Willingness to learn allows individuals to learn different things and therefore people should be willing to learn different languages. Reading of translated text can also be translated to the lack of ethical rigor. It shows that an individual is not interested and engaged in the imaginative life of strangers. Human are naturally social beings and learning different languages is one way to facilitate this nature. Getting to know the new languages does not just help in reading text but also in interacting with people who speak that language. It helps in getting exposure and learning the different ways that people view global issues and life in general. Therefore, instead of championing for translations, people should champion for learning new languages so as to fulfil scholarly, educational and ethical rigors.

Despite the authenticity of reading text in its native language, reading in translated form is becoming more common as the days go by. People that advocate for translated work argue that it provides an exposure to works that are beyond the reader’s tradition and the literary traditions of the languages they are fluent in. Many people also prefer translated works due to its supposed easy nature. However, this is a misconception since reading translated text also requires the acquisition of some special skills. Damrosch and Venuti offer guidelines on how to read translated works, while Venuti advocates for foreignized translations, Damrosch on the other hand advocates for readers to be aware of the distance being created by the translations. Translation leaders should learn the art of intrinsic readers and learning new reading methods for the non-native audiences. People should also be aware of the role translation plays within the literacy history. Learning this new approaches makes it hard to distinguish the native readers and foreign readers. There is hard work that is subjected into learning new languages, why not use this efforts in learning the language so as to capture the true authenticity of the language?.

Translated work tend to rob the original authors of their spotlight. Translation authors are now championing for the recognition of translated works as original rather than a copy. They argue that the translated work now has an extra author added to the original list of authors. It is my opinion that translated work is just a copy of an original work and recognizing it as original will be giving undeserving credit. Some translation writers have even gone beyond to claim that their translations offers an improvement to the original work. This cannot be true since the authenticity of an original text cannot be improved, rather it can only be lost. Hard work is put when an author writes their original work and it’s not fair for another individual to come and claim appreciation for their hard work. Appreciation should be confined to them being translation authors rather than the original authors of a text. To promote and appreciate the hard work of native authors, it is important to read text in the native languages.

There are texts that have been written by combining multiple foreign narratives. Translation of several foreign multiple narratives is assured to cause misinterpretation at some point. Some of these works can even be comprised of different languages. There are reasons as to why the native author saw the need of utilizing multiple languages and writing the text. It might be because, this way the real meaning and understanding he was trying to achieve can also be obtained so. Translating the work cannot fully capture the original meaning that was intended when the text was originally being written. An authentic scholar will take their time to learn the different languages and narratives that exist in the text before reading it. This will help is capturing the true, authentic and original meaning of the text.

Translation has often been referred to as Trans lingual editing. This is whereby a translator negotiates the existing versions of a text and creates their own new one in a new language other than that in which it was previously articulated. Although it is not ethically correct, there are instances where translators make translations from an already translated work. Since translation solely depends on the new author, the original meaning of the works is progressively being lost. Even thou translations are becoming more common with the ever increasing concept of a global village, it should be monitored. For a person to make an authentic translation, they need to learn the language in which the original text was written in. Simply making translations from an already existing translation is not right. Although there is loss of the original meaning in translations, it is not as much in an originally translated work as opposed to secondary translation. Further, when translated work is revised, the original meaning is also being progressively lost.

When making Japanese translations to Danish, there is no Japanese-Danish dictionary to use as reference and this makes it hard for the translations. Murakami Haruki is a Japanese author that plays around with style and alters it depending on the book he is writing. This calls for translators to continually make adaptations and changes depending on the book that they are translating. Murakami used the texts of Raymond Chandler as inspiration when he was writing his books. Other translators of Murakami’s works have frequently used abbreviations, cuts and paraphrasing which is deemed to extensively distort the original meaning of the text. There are translations in which paragraphs and pages are left out which clearly highlight his connection to Chandler. This omissions rob the reader of the authenticity and original meanings while losing the connection Murakami has to Chandler. Murakami’s work progressed and the writing styles changed as the length of his books increased. At the beginning, due to the short nature of his books, the novels were written in first person and this was later supplemented with many voices. This complication makes is hard to translate Murakami’s works due to the use of different first-person pronouns.

 Murakami also had a tendency of creating new words in his novel which could be well interpreted and understood in the Japanese language. However, due to the nature of this words, it proves problematic when translators are translating his work. Some readers of Murakami’s work of the Danish origin had also been earlier exposed to translations of this words that were less satisfactory. To get the actual meanings that will prove satisfactory, it is advisable to seek the opinions of such readers. Some of the words that he created were keisanshi 計算士 which roughly translated to somebody that calculates and kigoshi 記号士 which roughly translates to someone who decodes. This words were translated to English as calcutees and semiotics. Another way of solving the problem of made u words is by retaining them in the original language and having an excerpt which explains them in detail rather than confining their meaning to one word. There is a reason why the author made up the word and that reason should not be lost in the translations.

Music is a big part of Murakami’s literature therefore its translation is a wide topic of discussion. He had the ability to translate emotions into a musical metaphor. This allows parts of his stories to be read and heard in any translation in a similar way as they are heard in the native language. His works are based on musical compositions which makes the work of the translators easier. Music is internationally recognized and readers are able to recognize songs when mentioned in texts hence there is no reason for their translations. A translator should listen many times to songs in works they intend on translating. This creates an emotional approach towards making the translations. This leads to different approach and richer quality of language, allowing the reader to not only read but experience the feelings of our souls.

When writing a novel in a native language, it important to make the characters sound so, this is a sign of a good novel. However, this poses a problem during translation since it is difficult to translate the foreignness of the foreign into the new language. Translations should allow for the borrowing of this authentic features so as to embellish the new language. However, there are risks of a translation that sounds foreign being rejected as false or clumsy. To retain the foreignness, leaving some parts of the original is necessary. This can be used such as in French novels where the characters still refer to each other using the full French titles. In the past, educated readers were conversant with phrases from different languages and hence they could be easily left out. However, today people are not conversant with the phrases hence it is not advisable to leave them when making translations.


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November 24, 2023

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