Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Perfection In Imperfection

I like this quote from Ken Liu (translator of Cixin Liu's The Three-Body Problem into English):

The best translations into English do not, in fact, read as if they were originally written in English. The English words are arranged in such a way that the reader sees a glimpse of another culture's patterns of thinking, hears an echo of another language's rhythms and cadences, and feels a tremor of another people's gestures and movements.

This principle definitely applies to his translation of The Three-Body Problem. It contributed a lot to my enjoyment of the book. (Overall I thought it was good, though a little disappointing for a Hugo award winner.)

It occurred to me that I've never noticed this principle at work while reading the Bible in English. I think that's because the Bible is its own genre --- there's almost nothing written originally in English to compare it to. And then, anything remotely comparable originating in English would almost certainly been deeply influenced by the Bible.

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