Challenges involved in literary translation services
The challenges posed by literary translation are as follows:
- Stylistic resources and wordplay. The use of stylistic devices or wordplay makes translating difficult because there are usually no equivalents. The literary translator must understand the meaning and beauty expressed by the author and look for an equivalent to that meaning.
- Proper nouns. Proper names, whether of places, people or pets, may have a meaning for the understanding of the text. For example, in the novel Scarlet, an adaptation of the Little Red Riding Hood fairy tale, one of the main characters is named Wolf in the original. When translated into Spanish, this name became Lobo (the Spanish for “wolf”).
- Terminology. This difficulty arises, above all, in science fiction and fantasy literary works. This is because the author invents words or expressions for the worlds, objects or actions in the story. In addition, the terminology can be very complex.
- In relation to the previous sections, sagas can also pose a problem for literary translation in this respect. If you have chosen to translate a name or term, it is important to keep it throughout the saga. In this way, the reader will not have problems for the complete understanding of the text. This failure, for example, is present in the aforementioned saga and with the same character. In Scarlet, the character’s name was translated as follows “Lobo” for Wolf, but in later books the English form was retained. This causes confusion for the reader because, if they do not know English, they would not be sure what the name refers to.
- Information revealed later. In some books, the author aims to create expectation with the story. Therefore, at the beginning of the novel they tell the story indirectly or in an unclear way, and then reveal everything at the end. This poses a difficulty for literary translators because they may not understand exactly what the fact refers to. For this reason, it is recommended that translators read the entire novel before starting to translate, if they have enough time to do so.
- Target culture. The work may have many nuances that refer to the source culture. For this reason, the translator must have a great knowledge of both cultures in order to provoke the same feelings in the readers of both languages.
In short, literary translation services not only translate words, but also feelings and emotions. It is also about finding the right equivalents so that the reader thinks that they are not reading a translation, but rather author’s own words directly in their own language. That is why some say that literary translation is like writing a new book, but having a guide on what to write. At Translinguo Global®, our literary translation services will help your work be the best it can be in another language.