Why Is Translation So Significant?


“Translation is not a matter of words only: it is a matter of making intelligible a whole culture.”

-Anthony Burgess, 1984:4

  Imagine yourself cruising to another country when suddenly the ship faced some technical problems and ended up resorting to the nearest land. When the residents of this land come to greet you, it is certain that you may not understand their language and interpret their greeting as a threat for committing a trespass. In this case, translation is the savior. A translator’s job is to facilitate the communication between people of two different languages to avoid any misunderstanding that may arise. Since you are still stuck in this land, you might as well go sightseeing with an interpreter. As a matter of fact, translation actually boosts tourism. When an interpreter translates accurately, he will provide a friendly tourism, assist the tourists, and offer a special guidance.

Politics is the most prominent factor that controls the stability of each country and as a result, journalistic translation has become one of the most jobs in demand. Without translation, it would be difficult to transfer news and help people become up-to-date with all current events. The translation should be done accurately so that the news will become reliable and unambiguous. Journalistic translation is so pivotal that any mistranslation can actually cause tension between two or more countries that are hostile toward each other – it can even drag a country to a war. In addition, we wouldn’t have been able to follow up with the latest news of our favorite celebrities if it weren’t for translation.

One of the most challenging problems that a translator faces is cultural difference. Each country has its own culture and way of thinking. Hence, it is the duty of the translator to explain all idiomatic expressions or ideas in a way that suits the target audience. A sentence that is acceptable in one country may inadmissible in another nation. However, a translator must not change the whole meaning of a sentence because he will be unfaithful to the text and he will fail to provide the author’s ideas.

When translating a religious text, a translator must be keen not to offend the target audience. According to Robinson (2000: 103–107), religious translation is “problematic in terms of the status of translation and text”. Religious English language tends to use archaic words (such as thy, thou, thee, etc.) and it is likely to translate the Holy Quran as such so that the English-speaking audience will considered the target text as an ordinary scripture . Nowadays, many contemporary readers believe that such a style is outdated and difficult to be read.

Although the Internet is used to translate one language into another, it is still inadequate since the Internet neither has emotions to express nor does it have the knowledge to understand the target audience’s culture and way of thinking. Translating is not simply looking up a few words, it is conveying the meaning of metaphors, using dissimilar semantic forms, shifting to different linguistic and syntactic structures, and having a thorough knowledge of the culture of the two countries or languages involved.