How difficult is it to translate?

I often run into words that are so difficult to translate from english to chinese or chinese to english. As I’m not a linguist or translator by profession, I wasn’t aware that the challenge that I was running into is actually quite a broad, common one. Basically, when you are translating you have choices:

Either the translator leaves the author in peace, as much as possible, and moves the reader towards him; or he leaves the reader in peace, as much as possible, and moves the author towards him. –Venuti, 1995: 19-20


“Domesticating translation” and “foreignizing translation” are the terms coined by L. Venuti (1995) to describe the two different translation strategies. The former refers to the translation strategy in which a transparent, fluent style is adopted in order to minimize the strangeness of the foreign text for target language readers, while the latter designates the type of translation in which a target text “deliberately breaks target conventions by retaining something of the foreigness of the original” –Shuttleworth &Cowie, 1997:59

There’s a great article that goes into very extensive detail on the subject called “To Foreignize or Domesticate“, but for me, the point is simply that it puts your mind at peace — there reason you can’t translate it is because there’s not a word for it, so relax, you’re chinese and english are both OK.

There’s also a great dictionary on the same site with all sorts of business related words that you should be aware of.

2 thoughts on “How difficult is it to translate?”

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