Translators: Artists or Scientists?

28 Mar

In my MA lecture yesterday, we discussed whether translation studies could be classified as a science. One of my colleagues put forward that it already is, but another student voiced her opinion that translation is very much an art form.

It was argued that a scientific field would garner more respect than an art, which I personally disagree with, especially in the areas that I work in. I very much doubt that someone who has written a fashion feature will search high and low for the most scientific looking translator. Just the same, the producer of a medical trial paper would not be looking for a creative, poetic writing style.

This age-old debate is still raging, and the discussion culminated in our lecturer summarising that translation can be both an art and a science, depending on the text that you start with.

If translation really is an art and a science, why do both of my degrees fall under the Arts and Humanities category?

What do you think?

What can be learned from this debate? Identify your strengths. Are you an artist, a scientist, or both? Can you adapt to your client’s needs, or are you highly specialised in their field? Tell them! Make sure they know your worth. But, in order to do so, you need to know your own.


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