Because of the predominant influence of the Western teachings about translation, one of the most common misconceptions of translation is the fact related to fidelity. The word translation derives from a Latin word that means “carrying across” which implies a kind of translation that conveys meaning from a language to another with no added value and strict linguistic fidelity.
However, this is only one definition of translation, of which I am not a big fan. In fact, if we extend our horizon and look at how other cultures address the concept of language, we will notice that the idea of translation is considered much more than just a conveying of meaning, but it is something associated with creativity and unifying art.
For example, in India “Translation” comes from the word “Rupantar” which means “change in form”. In Nigeria, we have “Tapia” and “Kowa” which means “Break it up and tell it”.
We then have the Chinese word “Fanyi”, which means turning over, or Japan with “Hirugaesu” meaning “causing the inner side to manifest”.
The above examples represent proof of how different the Western perception is, compared to many other cultures that, instead, give a more powerful role to translation due to their understanding of the importance of interpretation as well as creation and control of a language.
By exploring the roots of words for “translation” it is also possible to notice that there are different underlying meanings as well as roles that are conferred to translation, and I believe in the one that defines translation as a bridge between worlds.
Finally, it serves well the saying -translator, not traitor- to explain that a translator is more like a creator and the use of technological tools can only be used as support but never as a substitute for the human component because the process is complex and its nuances are not perceptible if not by a person who has been exposed to the language and culture in question.