Strategies for Overcoming Literalisms in Translation
The passage from one language to another is beset by awkward phrasing and literal renderings. Every translator has been accused at one point of producing a document which reads like “translatese,” a text jarring to the ears of a native speaker, exposing its foreign origins. The key to overcoming this challenge is to go beyond the generic feeling that a text is awkward and to define and single out those characteristics that make a translation overly-literal and awkward. In my lecture I will explain the underlying causes of literalism—the result of juggling two languages at once—and suggest some specific strategies for rendering a translation that is both faithful to the source text but natural in its target language, using examples from my own work as a Hebrew to English translator.