This is an article I posted at my translation blog: Elisa的翻譯工作坊 - 版權所有. I think that it may benefit some of you, so I decided to post it here too.
The Art of Translation and a Good Translator.
A Good Translator
It is especially essential as a good translator to translate the original text as accurately as possible. There are occasions that a translator may need to edit certain terms to create accurate translation, but not 2nd guess the original text or add personal opinions to it. A good translator must take his/her time to do research to provide accurate translation.
A good knowledge of the source language (the language that he/she is translating from) and the target language (the language that he/she is translating to), such as cultures, writing style, word usage, grammar, idioms, and slangs, is crucial to clearly and accurately render the source materials into the target language.
In addition to mastering the source and target languages, a good translator must own adequate professional knowledge and academic understanding of the field that he/she is translating from and translating to.
What’s more, a good translator must possess high level of writing skill in target language and passes on that level of writing into translation.
The Art of Translation
A good translated work is one that leaves no trace of it being a work of translation. To accomplish that goal, avoid word for word literal translation. Because of cultural differences and the way languages are structured, it is impossible to get an exact word for word translation from one language to another. For example: She likes to take a rifle approach to increase her rate of success. Here, rifle approach does not literally mean “大砲步驟”. It means “集中的步驟, 策略”. If you translate it literally, you would have completely missed it.
It is important to think it the way the native would think and write it the way that the native would write.
Lastly, remember short and sweet. This stays true to translation as it does to writing. Remember clarity, readability and organize it so the sentences flow and are easier to be understood. Avoid big, clumsy, compound, long-winding sentences with complex sentence structure to create readers’ confusion.
** from Elisa **