Peculiarities of translating fiction

Fiction translation

Although translating fiction does not require the same level of precision as translating technical texts, it has its challenges. A translator working in this field becomes a kind of collaborator. Fiction translations are not as easy to formalise as literal translations, much depends on how the readers perceive them. But the main requirement is that they must be done by professionals. That is why it is better to turn to a translation agency.

Features of literary translation

The key feature of fiction translation is that it does not require the same level of precision as commercial, technical, legal and medical texts. Readers may be outraged by some adaptation peculiarities, but that is all. While mistakes in the instructions for a medicine or complex equipment are fraught with unpleasant or even catastrophic consequences. But there are problems in this area too.

It is a special kind of linguistic activity. Translation of fiction aims to create a full-fledged analogue of the original text but in a different language. It conveys not only the plot of the work, but also the emotional component, humorous remarks, witty aphorisms. And at the same time the new text corresponds to linguistic habits of the country for which it is translated. That’s what makes a translator a collaborator. After all, he or she doesn’t just match all the words in the text, but builds connections between them that help convey the mood of the work.

The main problems of literary translation

Professionals who work with this kind of literature have to face several problems:

The need to accurately convey the stylistics of the original.
The difficulty of translating certain phrases.
The influence of the translator’s personality on the finished document.
Lack of clear formalised criteria for judging the quality of the translation.
In addition, when translating such texts one has to take into account the culture and mentality of the citizens of other countries, which for the author seemed to be a matter of course.

Stylistics and other difficulties

Fiction-based translations often need to change important aspects of the text to adapt it to foreign-language speakers. Some of them even have to be abandoned. However, the stylistics have to be maintained. It is more than genre, focus, etc. It determines the reader’s perception of the text.

Many difficulties arise with translation of certain lexemes. They can be very different in different languages, sometimes some concepts are even rendered by other parts of speech. But much depends on the author’s intention. Sometimes an exact translation is needed. But sometimes the original author wants to preserve ambiguity – for play on words or for an unexpected plot twist.

Another challenge is to avoid letting the translator’s personality affect the finished text. It is not always possible to understand what the author wanted to say. The translator can interpret his or her thoughts in his or her own way, and the reader will have the wrong impression of the work.

When translators complain about the lack of clear criteria for judging the quality of an adapted work, it is a question of perception. A high-quality literary translation will be a hit with readers. But it also happens that the work itself is a success, while the translation is lambasted, as is often the case with great cult books. Unfortunately, in this case, clients can only rely on their own taste. However, the bureau will try to make the text as close to the original as possible.

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