I did a bit of research on Translation Studies last semester as I was working on translations for my Masters Thesis. I came across a lot of things which I knew I wouldn’t be able to cover in just four months. But since I was working more upon the thoery of Structuralism and specifically Fredinand De Saussure, I couldn’t give more time to Tranlsation theories in particular. But since it’s the postmodern and post-structuralist world, I think all of us have the lisence to breach the specified and well defined lines which separate one thing from another. So yes, we cannot actually draw a line between Structuralism, Translation Studies and Post-Structuralism etc.
Anyway, so the structuralist theorist believed that a language is a system. and every word belonging to that linguistic system is a sign. And Saussure also put forward the theory that these signs get meaning from the context and that context is culture and tradition. So, the signs of English linguistic system get meanings from the tradition of English and the signs of any other language would get their meaning from the tradition to which that linguistic system belong. And plus the meaning would also come from difference. So a flower is a flower because it is diffferent from a leaf and stem and grass similarly with other things. One thing is that thing because the other is not. Anyway, so they believed that the signs that are transfered from one linguistic system to another, their meaning changes even if their physical formation is not changed, because the tradition or culture is different and the differences that define the sign would be totally different in the other system, so the signs cannot be reproduce in the other system having exactly the same meaning…
Anyway, why am I narrating the whole tale to you? That is because, people tend to translate things and at times they change the intonation, the connotations, the denotations or simply rips apart the meaning of that word. So, when I was dealing with the translations, I understood how we cannot actually rely on the translator’s mouth for the real meaning of the original. The translated version in itself is a work of creativity and one should not read it in order to understand the original text but read it as a new work of art which can be called as the interpreted work or something that the translator has read, internalized, understood and then recreated with his own worldview.
The reason I’m saying all this is because I just came up with such translation in a book. Let me quote it ,
“the Prophet Mohammad’s hejrat (flight from Mecca to Medina in 622 A.D. to escape persecution)”
So, hejrat‘s meaning here is an interpretation of the author of the whole thing. Does “Hejrat” actually mean that? This is just one example. Throughout the course of watching the media, reading books and specially the kind of propaganda literature we come across today or the kinds of translations we come across today, it shows how translations are no more an affair of trying to present the meaning in another language with as much sincerity to that meaning but it all of it is just a matter of how “I” see it. So, every translation automatically turns into interpreted version of some original text where the original meaning is actually with the original text and not with the translated version.