We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
You’ll never know exactly what a translator has done. He [or she] reads with maniacal attention to nuance and cultural implication, conscious of all the books that stand behind this one; then sets out to rewrite this impossibly complex thing in his [or her] own language, re-elaborating everything, changing everything in order that it remain the same, or as close as possible to [the translator’s] own experience of the original. In every sentence the most loyal respect must combine with the most resourceful inventiveness. Imagine shifting the Tower of Pisa into downtown Manhattan and convincing everyone it’s in the right place; that’s the scale of the task.
Javier Marías, the Spanish author. worked as a translator before becoming an author. In his work, A Heart So White, there is a section that discusses the work of translators and interpreters.Translators work with written material. Interpreters simultaneously translate speech. An interpreter for a female British politician and a Spanish politician, deliberately mistranslates.
“Would you like me to order you some tea?” he said.
And I didn’t translate, I mean that the English I put into his mouth was not his polite question (which it must be recognized was as trite as it was tardy), but this other question:
“Tell me, do the people in your country love you?”
I could feel Luisa’s astonishment behind me, more than that, I noticed that she immediately uncrossed her startled legs (the long legs that were never out of my sight, like the expensive new Prada shoes, she certainly knew how to spend her money, unless someone else had given them to her), and for a few long seconds (I felt the back of my neck pierced by her sense of shock), I waited for her to intervene and denounce me, to correct or reprimand me, or rather for her, the “net”, to take over from me at once, that’s what she was there for. But those few seconds passed (one, two, three, four) and she said nothing, perhaps (I thought then) because the high-ranking British politician didn’t seem in the least offended and replied at once, with a kind of contained vehemence:
“I often wonder the same thing myself,” she said, and for the first time she crossed her legs, forgetting about her sensible skirt and revealing two very square, white knees. “The people vote for one, indeed they do so more than once. One is elected, again more than once. And yet, it’s odd, one still doesn’t have the feeling of being loved.”
One time in Argentina, in visiting a friend's workplace, by default I became the interpreter for a US agronomist presenting his research discoveries. He would speak a sentence or two. I would translate. Rinse and repeat. After a half hour, I was exhausted.
and that's the difficulty translating between languages that are still "living" and spoken by millions of people. My heart goes out to Biblical and other translators of ancient literature, who not only have to deal with languages that are foreign, but cultures and idioms that are foreign as well. Imagine translating a document that predisposes that the reader would have a working knowledge of how a 4th century BCE irrigation system worked, for instance. You get into similes that say this thing you've never heard of is just like this other thing you've never heard of.
Another guy named Dan
I should add that I work in IT, which means that about half of my coworkers speak English as other than their first language. I've found it best to try to avoid constructions like "As of next week we would have had been doing it for two years".
Another guy named Dan
Many years ago I took a college class in Fortran. The instructor was born in Vietnam and his accent and slipping into Vietnamese made it impossible to understand. My co-worker (we were both military) was a trained Vietnamese interpreter. So we would hold sessions after class where I could catch up.
As a side note some of his friends were married to Vietnamese women. He would often overhear their chit chat between themselves without them knowing he understood them. He said that they would openly discuss their sex lives and attributes of their husband. They would even talk about him and others in the room.