They say there is no wise man wiser than a good thought. At Okodia Translation Group, we are paying heed to this popular belief and would like to share some wisdom with you. And if, while we’re at it, it makes us reflect on the work of a professional translator, even better. Because… There are some famous translation quotes that should be framed, they are unforgettable and will surely be etched on your memory almost as much as the 12 famous audiovisual translation quotes that we posted a short time ago in Okodia’s blog. Shall we begin?


Translation: an art form

 ‘Translation is one of the few human activities in which the impossible occurs by principle.’ Mariano Antolín Rato.

‘If we were to translate into English the traditional formula “Traduttore, traditore,” as “the translator is a betrayer,” we would deprive the Italian rhyming epigram of all its paranomastic value. Hence a cognitive attitude would compel us to change this aphorism into a more explicit statement, and to answer the questions: translator of what messages? Betrayer of what values?’ Roman Jakobson

‘Translation is the art of failure.’ Umberto Eco.

‘Translating is producing analogous effects by different means.’ Paul Valéry.

In journey more than a profession

‘To translate is travel through a foreign country.’ George Steiner.

‘Translation is the essence of modern civilisation.’ I.B. Singer

Famous poetry translation quotes

‘Good translations are one of the vital necessities of our time.’ F. C. Lucas

‘What is lost in good or excellent translation is precisely the best.’ Karl Wilhelm Friedrich Schlegel

The ideal reader is a translator. He or she can pull the text to pieces, remove the skin, cut it down, follow each artery and vein and thence fashion a new living being.’ Alberto Manguel

‘Being a translator means to practise the noble profession of facilitating communication between humans, who live partly or completely separated by what they see as insurmountable language barriers.’ Valentín García Yebra

‘Translation is like a woman. If it is beautiful, it is not faithful. If it is faithful, it is most certainly not beautiful.’ Yevgeny Yevtushenko

‘Translation cannot be disassociated from the notion of progress: some even maintain that a society can be measured by the translation it accepts.’ Jean-Francois Joly

‘Translation is an interestingly different way to be involved both in poetry and with a language that I found myself living in much of the time. I think they feed each other.’ Marilyn Hacker

‘The best thing on translation was said by Cervantes: translation is the other side of the tapestry.’ Leonardo Sciascia


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