turkishenglish.com - Translation as art

Translation As Art

Picture of Latin textLanguage has come a long way from the first cuneiform scripts of Mesopotamia but it has not lost one iota of significance. In fact, in the information age we live in, it is more important than ever. Linguistics is a burgeoning field and new insights into language and the human mind are being made with surprising regularity. In fact, experts in the field have realized that linguistics is more a study of the human mind and its organizational and creative potential than it is a study of language. Having said that, we should hasten to add that the mind has limitations as well. Recall is not always total and the mind's internal processor cannot compete with Intel. Science has taught us much about the complexity of the mind and technology has helped us compensate for its weaknesses.

And yet language cannot be reduced to mere science. There is an element of beauty in language that cannot be reduced to mechanical equations. It is almost magical that we can communicate the most complex abstract truths of philosophy, share our deepest emotions and cross the gulf that separates one soul from another, simply by stringing words together. Of course, this simplistic characterization - 'simply by stringing words together' - is not an accurate representation of the reality. Maybe this is the reason that language is often held to be sacred and frequently becomes an art form of itself. There is almost no society which does not share this almost reverential view of language and we see it embodied in calligraphy and many other language based art forms.

Ottoman calligraphyThe importance of language cannot be overemphasized. It is the vehicle of law and culture, history and business. It is language which brings us the philosophy of the Greeks and the science of Einstein. Without it we would be little more than an aggressive predator prowling the earth in search of today's meal. The global village we live in is made possible by language and the growing internationalism associated with globalization owes its very soul to the connection that language provides.

Those of us who travel abroad appreciate the subtleties of language, but it is just these subtleties that make translation challenging. We have all seen the menus offering "Rich kinds of tasting cuisine". This sentence may be understandable but if you had just spent $250K opening a ritzy restaurant on the Mediterranean coast, you would not want this to be splashed across the cover of your menu. These types of linguistic mistakes are often quaint but never quite achieve the desired effect. In fact, sometimes the lack of professionalism turns customers off.

No one makes these mistakes on purpose, but any particular language is like a tapestry woven over generations by the collective culture of a people. It is a on-going project of enormous value to its speakers and is continually being added to by their sharpest and most creative minds. There will be a word or phrase for literally every situation that their forefathers ever encountered. And, every new generation adds to this rich tapestry words and idioms of its own. It is no wonder that even the best non-native speakers frequently make what appear to be unforgivable translation mistakes. Language is positively brimming with subtle nuances that only native speakers recognize.

Formal education in linguistics, coupled with years of experience in translation have convinced us that native speaker intuition is an indispensable part of the translation process. At turkishenglish.com all of our Turkish/English translations are done by a translation team made up of at least one native speaker of the target language together with a native speaker of the source language to ensure that your message is conveyed accurately, flawlessly and in an effective culturally appropriate way. This is also why turkishenglish.com only does translations in one language pair - English/Turkish. No one can be excellent at everything, and at turkishenglish.com excellence is something we refuse to compromise on.

Our translation office is located in Turkey. Robert Johnson - M.A. in linguists from the University of Texas Arlington - is the translation coordinator and supervises our team of professional Turkish translators. You may write to him at translate@turkishenglish.com with questions or to get a quote for your project.