Quotes, Translation

Jorge Luis Borges, on dictionaries and translation

500 jlb

“The dictionary is based on the hypothesis – obviously an unproven one – that languages are made up of equivalent synonyms.”

– Jorge Luis Borges

As a translator and a writer, this quote rings very true for me. Words can not always (usually) be translated in a 100% accurate way. This is the constant thrill and disappointment of translating work. In each language, every word is so full of meaning and connections, sounds and melodies… it can never be captured perfectly in a dictionary.

Translation is always an interpretation, a re-writing, a re-imagining of the source material. You can definitely do it wrong, but there are many ways to do it right: not just one.

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