Translation: an intricate process

I attended a lecture by William Granara of Harvard University this past Monday November 26th.  As a student currently enrolled in a Spanish class dealing directly with cultural and identity conflicts in both Spain and the modern Arab world, I found the subject matter of the lecture to be very relevant and incredibly interesting.  Of course, there were many aspects of the historical context and references to literary works in Arabic that were hard to comprehend, but the overall “take-home message” of the lecture is one that I feel applies to the translation theme of the semester as whole.  As a renowned translator and professor at Harvard University, William Granara certainly had some great insight into what translation really entails.  Before attending the lecture, I assumed translation to be a relatively simple process.  But after attending this lecture and talking with William Granara during a visit to my Spanish class, I now realize that translation is far more intricate, time-consuming and complicated than I ever imagined.  The task of translating from one language to another involves far more than just extensive linguistic knowledge.  William Granara discussed issues with terminology and processes of “transculturation” that arose when he examined patterns/differences in Arabic novels.  When he spoke with my Spanish class later in the week, we discussed his career as a translator and his translation of one novel in specific.  He told us about his correspondence with the original author of the novel and problems that arose when he sent her his English “version” of her Arabic text.  Additionally, discussion of the effect of cultural disparities on the translation process was eye-opening as well.  Overall, Monday’s lecture and William Granara’s visit to my Spanish class this week allowed me to view translation in a totally different light.

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