TranslationEvery translation is an act of negotiation.

-Umberto Eco

I only recently saw this quote from the recently deceased Italian novelist, Umberto Eco. He would certainly have known about this first-hand, as his novels, especially his most famous, The Name of The Rose, were translated into numerous languages.

But Eco was also a linguist and semiotician, so he would have especially understood the complexities of taking a work of literature and transforming it into another language. I love his having likened this extremely difficult challenge to an act of negotiation. How true does the translator stay to the original? How may times do choices in translation change the sense of the story? How much back and forth should there be when translators have doubts?

As for me, I am always impressed when I read a beautifully translated novel. I’m glad to see there are so many translators out there skilled in the art of negotiation as they carry out their work.

What do you think, readers and writers?