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LE 901

Translation is Science and Art combined

Written on November 2, 2013 by Editor in Culture, Interviews, Kurdistan, Language
Interview with Muhammad Fatih Ghareeb:
Muhammad Fatih Ghareeb
Interviewed by Aras Ahmed Mhamad
AAM: How would you define translation? Whats the importance of translation in this commercial and
technoloical world?
MF: Tere are various de!initions" #ost o! tem are $nown to students o! translation and translators"
%ere, I would li$e to de!ine it !rom a day&to&day li!e o! translators" I would say' tey understand you, you
understand tem" Tat is very sim(ly (ut wat translation is" I mean' it is via translation tat you, wo do
not s(ea$ a (arti)ular language, )an understand oters and te oter way around"
Translation is not )onverting a te*t or a !ile in a )om(uter (rogram+ en)e, translators are not )onversion
so!tware" Translation is s)ien)e and art )ombined" Tat is wy ma)ine translation is still (rimitive" ,n)e I
saw -ing as translated . /0123 4 5678 9:;<23 =>?3 9@AB C 4 D1>E 9@A1F G as ., Hod, donIt ma$e yoursel! greater
minimum amount we $now no matter"G Jou see ow meaningless and mista$enly it translated it"
In addition to tat, I li$e (olyglots Ioannis I$onomou saying tat, .Translation is about )ommuting between
languages K and tis is li$e magi) to me' you stand alone !a)ing a te*t wi) !ew (eo(le would
understand witout your a)ting as an intermediary" Jou start wor$ing wit a do)ument, you trans!orm it,
you breate new li!e into it by giving it meaning in anoter language and ta daL K you )ome u( wit a
new te*t, a (rodu)t o! your $nowledge, intelligen)e and sensitivity"G
Nowadays translation is one o! te $eys, sometimes te most im(ortant one, to te su))ess o! many
businesses" Es(e)ially wen going global" Imagine a giant su))ess!ul )om(any !rom M(ain wants to sell a
mer)andiNe in Kurdistan" Tey are already su))ess!ul in te !ield tey wor$ in" Te (rodu)t is suitable !or
Kurdis )onsumers" %ow will te (ro!it be i! tey Oust send it over ere and sell it in te M(anis language,
)om(aring to ow mu) tey will ma$e i! tey translated everyting about te (rodu)t to Kurdis
language+ in)luding adverts, lea!lets, and !lyers" Te di!!eren)e is )lear"
In addition to tis, aving some (rodu)ts or te)nologi)al items only in a !oreign language )ould be
arm!ul and not Oust to (ro!it" P !riend o! mine, wo is a veterinarian, said to me' .Tere is a ma$e o! mil$
were te ingredients are not u( to standards" Te )arton )learly lists ingredients+ sadly (eo(le buy it
be)ause tey do not understand wat is writtenG" Tis is a very )ommon issue"
AAM: Is translation a !ob or an art? What is the bedroc" for the act of translation?
MF: It is bot" Translation is a Oob be)ause it involves wor$ing ard and it (ays o!!" It is an art be)ause
wen you give one te*t to two di!!erent translators, you will ave two di!!erent translations, bot )ould
eQually be valid" Ea) translator as is uniQue way o! doing te Oob" Te im(ortan)e ere is not to lose
te meaning o! te te*t" Jou must say wat te autor said" Jou are not res(onsible !or wat is said
rater !or wat or ow you translate" Te tou) o! a translator on a translated te*t is te art (art o! it"
Wat is te bedro)$R Sor tis, translators and language e*(erts ave various (oints o! view" Mo!er, in Te
TranslatorIs %andboo$ tin$s, .M(eed is te most im(ortant ting in translation besides language
(ro!i)ien)y"G It is generally agreed tat $nowledge o! te languages is )ru)ial" I ave to agree tat Oust
s(ea$ing a language does not ma$e you a translator" Jou ave to gater $nowledge" I would suggest two
tings as )riti)al in translating' Knowledge o! bot te languages, and not over estimating your ability"
Te !irst is )lear wat it means" Te se)ond one will $ee( you sa!e and (ro!essional i! you )onsider it and
will bring you trouble i! you do not" Tere are many e*am(les o! tis" In teir boo$ TSound in TranslationI
Nataly Kelly and Uost VetNs)e give e*am(les o! bot)ed, sometimes !inan)ially&)ostly or deat&)ausing
translation stories" P rebranding )am(aign o! %M-C ban$Is )at)(rase )ost tem 10 million WMX" Te
)at)(rase was su((osed to say .Pssume NotingG but it was mis&translated in many )ountries saying
.Xo NotingG" Tis was in 200Y" #y (oint is mastering te languages you translate !rom and to is vital"
AAM: Meanin is often lost in translation# How does that ma"e you feel as a translator?
MF: Conveying meaning is te soul o! translation" Wen it is lost tere will be no (oint in aving a
translator" Com(anies and agen)ies ire you to )ommuni)ate wat tey want te targeted (eo(le to
$now" I! you !ailed doing tat, you lose )redibility as a translator and it may )ost you te Oob"
Ps a translator mysel!, tat )an be burdensome at times" Wen you translate you ave te sour)e te*t" I!
you !orget te audien)e, wo do not ave a))ess to te sour)e te*t, it will result in a (oor translation tat
)ould (ossibly ba)$!ire" Pn e*am(le in re)ent days is wen Iranian Zresident %assan [oani was
interviewed by CNNIs Cristian Pman(uor" Te Iranian news agen)y Sars ad obOe)tions to te
translation o! #r" [oaniIs answer to a Question by Pman(our" Me as$ed im weter e .a))e(tsG wat
te %olo)aust was, and e re(lied, a))ording to te interviewIs translator, .I ave said be!ore tat I am not
a istorian" Pnd tat wen it )omes to s(ea$ing o! te dimensions o! te %olo)aust it is te istorians tat
sould re!le)t on it"G
Sars news agen)y ad obOe)tion on te use o! word .%olo)austG, wi) tey said was not said by #r"
[oani" CNN denied tis" Wall Mtreet o(inionators, later on, Oum(ed in to ba)$ te obOe)tions o! Sars"
Tey said #r" [oani said .istori)al eventG not .%olo)aust" %ere, I do not s(ea$ (oliti)s" Weter tere
was intention o! alteration or not K tat does not )on)ern me" I want you see ow Oust one word )ould
ma$e (roblems or even tension in )ountriesI relationsi(s" Jou )an !ind many )ases li$e tis trougout
I! translators were to loo$ !or someting in a te*t, tey sould loo$ !or te meaning" Hood andling o! te
meaning ma$es you a good translator, i! not among te best"
AAM: Which one is preferable$ sense%to%sense or literal translation? &o you thin" a holy boo" li"e the
'uran can accept free translation?
MF: #ost o! te times it de(ends" Pltoug literal translation sometimes is viewed as .not goodG tere will
be times you need to )onsider it" Ps I (ointed out in te (revious Question, meaning is wat translators
sould aim !or" Mense o! wat is being said matters a lot" Jou must $now wat te meaning o! te word or
(rase used is" I do not mean te di)tionary meaning, I mean wat is te used word or e*(ression in te
target language !or te word or te e*(ression in te sour)e language"
Englis (eo(le may e*(ress an idea using words tat, i! you translate tem as tey are, you are going to
end u( wit a very (oor translation and sometimes a !unny one" Jou need to $now wat te eQuivalent !or
used e*(ressions and words are in te Kurdis language to ave a )lear translation !or Kurdis readers"
Ta$e ZiramerdIs Kaman)aNan as an e*am(le" %e translated it to Kurdis !rom Tur$is" I! you read it
on)e you want to read it again" Ziramerd never lost te !unny and Ooy!ul sense o! te te*t in te
I! it were not !or te (eo(le and names o! (la)es you migt tin$ it is a Kurdis writing" %e really
understood te sense in te Tur$is te*t" ,n te oter and, you ave te translation o! Te Mim(sons
movie" ,ne o! te )ara)ters, [al( Wiggum, says, .I li$e men, nowG I saw it was translated . \E ]2 C9:^
/_]`GaI am li$e menb instead o! . cd]e ]2 ]C9:^ G" I do not $now wy te translator translated it li$e tat" %e as
te movie at is dis(osal, or at least tat is wat I tin$ sould be te )ase, so ow did e ma$e su) a
mista$eL Te s)ene tells you even witout te )ara)ter saying a word"
Wen it )omes to translating furIan Pl&Kareem, or any s)ri(tures !or tat matter, we ave to be very
)are!ul" Te furIan is not li$e any oter te*t on te eart" Pt least tat is te view o! tose wo a))e(t it
as a oly boo$ !rom Hod" It )ontains instru)tions !or (eo(leIs lives, bot ere and erea!ter" Translating it
reQuires, besides a uge $nowledge o! te languages, a lot o! $nowledge o! te religionIs do)trine and its
istory" Pnd still one is )autious about translating it" Tat is wy it is re)ommended to read it in te
original language, wi) is Prabi)" Te Prabi) language is so ri) sometimes you need a senten)e or
maybe even more to translate a word or a (rase" Its words generally ave several meanings" Ta$e te
!irst aya tat was revealed, !rom sura Pl&PlaQ" In Prabi) it reads'
=g hi 3 j ki /l mi 9nl ogj pg nq rsl 2t3 ug 1gvg w x y ug 1gvg zg 9{g ;|i l 3 \i El u} 1gFg w ~ y
Te very !irst word . =g hi 3 j ki G in Englis means .[eadG, .[e)iteGand also .Zro)laimG" Te Prabi) word . ogj q G as in
. ogj pg nq Gbesides meaning .LordG, also means .MustainerG.CeriserG and .ZroviderG" Te word .ug 1gvg G )ould
mean .to )reate !rom notingG or .to )reate !rom (re&e*isting materialGand .ug 1gvg G )an also mean .to (lanG,
.to (rogramG or .to ma$e smootG"
In te se)ond aya, te Prabi) word .u1gFg G means .Congealed o! bloodG, .Mometing wi) )lingsG,
.Plee)li$e substan)eG, .EmbryosG, or .ClotsG" Mo i! you want to translate tese two ayas into Englis
language, you will say' [ead, re)ite, (ro)laim in te name o! you Lord, Mustainer, Ceriser and
Zrovidera1b Wo )reated, wo (lanned, wo (rogramed man !rom someting wi) )lings, a lee)li$e
substan)e, embryos, )lots"a2b"
Tis would be very di!!i)ult, be)ause te Prabi) words )arry messages in very sort words" Te language
is very ri)" Pt my dis(osal I ave a )o(y o! translation o! te meanings o! furIan by Xr" #uammad
#amud Hali" Wen translating, e was )autious" Wit words li$e te ones we mentioned, e made
sure to ave !ootnotes and gave te literal meaning o! tem" Sor instan)e+ in translation o! . /i 6i ng } 6i >g2l C < Fg G
in sura 2 aya 3, e wrote, .ea) o! you is an enemy o! te oter"G Pnd in te !ootnote e wrote'
.Literally' some o! you an enemy o! some"G
Jou noti)e ow mu) )are!ul e was" #oreover+ translators, in translating furIan Pl&Kareem, !a)e words
tat tere is no Englis eQuivalen)e !or tem" Sor e*am(le you ave tePrabi) word .g <g Fg G wi) means
.e did Ousti)eG and ./g 1gg Gwi) you need to e*(ress it as .e did inOusti)eG" Mo, you see ow uge a Oob it is
and a res(onsibility to translate furIan Pl&Kareem" Jou need to be absolutely (re(ared and very
AAM: What are the most obvious problems that translators encounter durin translatin a te(t from
source lanuae into taret lanuae?
MF: %ere, I would li$e to s(ea$ as an Englis&Kurdis&Englis translator, be)ause I do not $now mu)
about oter languages" Kurdis s(ea$ing translatorsI (roblems vary !rom one to anoter" Mome (roblems
are )ommon !or every translator, regardless o! te language e wor$s wit" Mome are more s(e)i!i) to
some languages" It is someting )ommon tat translating Oo$es and witti)isms is amongst te ardest
tings to translate"
Sor me, as Kurdis translators, s)ienti!i) te*ts are )allenging" Kurdis libraries are in need o! tose te*ts,
wi) is te reason I want to !o)us on translating s)ienti!i) boo$s and arti)les" Te terminology o! tose
te*ts is di!!i)ult to !ind in Kurdis" Mometimes you ave to ma$e or )oin new words" I admire tose writers
wo )ome&u( wit new words" Te Kurdis language needs it"
AAM: )he funniest !o"e in the *nlish lanuae may be a tasteless !o"e when translated+ for e(ample+
into ,urdish# -an this also be true for idioms+ sons+ poems+ and proverbs?
MF: It is ow you translate tat de)ides weter it is tasteless or not" Witout doubt, Oo$es are di!!i)ult to
translate, as I mentioned (reviously" It a((ens in te li!e o! almost all translators, wen you tell a Oo$e,
tey do not laug or i! tey do it is out o! (oliteness, and you say .It is mu) !unnier in my language"G
Tere are two reasons wy tis (roblem arises' !irst, is a )ultural re!eren)e+ se)ond, is word(lay"
Mome e*(erien)ed translators tin$ .you need a bit o! lu)$" GTranslating idioms and (roverbs are also
trea)erous" I! you )ould !ind eQuivalen)e in te target language tat is ideal, and i! you do not you ave
to very )are!ully give an e*(lanation" Tis sometimes )ould result in blunders, es(e)ially !or inter(reters
wo do not ave te lu*ury o! time and resour)es" Sor (oems, and songs also, you need to be very
)reative" CK Williams, te (oet, says, .Jou donIt translate Sren) (oetry into Englis but into (oetryG Tat
means (oetry need more tan su(er!i)ial translation o! words and stru)tures, it is very dee("
It really is a ard wor$, I believe" I ave always admired te translation o! te KayyamIs Quarters !rom
Sarsi to Kurdis' te one done by Me$ Malam" Neverteless, we ave ZiramerdIs intralanguage
translation o! #awlawyIs (oems" Ziramerd is beind te (o(ularity o! some o! tem to te Morani&
s(ea$ing (eo(le"
AAM: -ivili.ation+ the translators ideoloy+ history of the source and taret lanuaes+ and the
psycholoy of the translator play a sinificant role in translation# How would you comment on that?
MF: In te (ast it was tougt tat translators are Oust re(la)ing words !rom one language to anoter"
Teir Oob was o! no )reativity and tey ave no )oi)e but to !ollow autors" P!ter dee( analysis and
Questioning tis as )anged" Tere is an argument tat says' beind every one o! te translatorIs
sele)tions o! words to add or to leave out, words to )oose and te way o! (la)ing tem .tere is a
voluntary a)t tat reveals is istory and te so)io&(oliti)al milieu tat surrounds im+ in oter words, is
own )ulture and ideologyG aPlvareN and idal, 1YYb"
E!!e)ts o! translatorsI ideology and )ulture or )iviliNation )an be seen on te*ts trougout te istory" Mo
many times it is not intentional tat you want to leave tat mar$ on te translated te*t" Te wor$ is your
(rodu)tion so it will re!le)t you in one way or anoter" Pnd it is not always a bad ting" Ps !ar as te
meaning is not lost you are !ree to ave your use o! words and eQuivalen)es" I! your ba)$ground or
(sy)ology made your translation say someting wi) is not in te original te*t, ten you will ave a big
(roblem and you lose )redibility and you ave not been trut!ul"
AAM: )ranslation is always connected to lanuae# How fundamental is lanuae for translation?
MF: Knowing te language you translate !rom is !undamental" I do not mean Oust s(ea$ing it" Jou need to
be a)ademi)ally )erti!ied" Jou need to $now about te )ulture and some tings about te istory o! te
language" I! (ossible, you $now te (erson, or te autor, I mean i! you are !amiliar wit is or er way o!
writing and s(ea$ing tat is even better and would be ideal" It el(s you (rodu)e a better translation"
Henerally, it is re)ommended tat you sould translate to your moter tongue be)ause you $now about it
more tan any oter languages you s(ea$" Mo, translation is tere be)ause we ave language barriers"
Witout it )ommuni)ation would be very di!!i)ult and, at times, im(ossible"
AAM: /iterary+ scientific+ political+ philosophical boo"s have different contents and styles# What do you
thin" is the best approach in translatin+ for instance+ a literary te(t?
MF: Ea) ty(e o! te*t reQuires a s(e)ial a((roa)" Translators need to be s(e)ialiNed, or at least ave
some $nowledge o! te !ield" I! you do not $now about oil, !or e*am(le, do not translate !or oil )om(anies"
[ead, and ten do translation, tis is true !or all di!!erent !ields" Jou need to $now tat ,bama is !rom te
Xemo)rati) Zarty, not te [e(ubli)an, as very basi) in!ormation to translate is s(ee)"
To do a good translation o! s)ienti!i) te*ts, $nowledge o! te vo)abulary o! te !ield is very vital, es(e)ially
in te Kurdis language" We do not ave a big vo)abulary !or te s)ienti!i) !ields" We usually ad used
Prabi) words in (ast and Englis in te re)ent years" Mometimes you see some (eo(le, Oust to sound
smarter, using !oreign words in teir s(ea$ing or writing" Wen tis )omes to translation I tin$ it is !ar
more dangerous be)ause, i! it a((ens wen a translated te*t is !or te !irst time (ublised, readers will
(i)$ u( te new vo)abularies in it and oter writers, also"
I! te translator does not ma$e enoug e!!ort to translate te new words and Oust leaves tem as tey are,
we will end u( using more o! !oreign languages" In some !ields li$e (oliti)s and (iloso(y, we already
started doing tis mista$e"
Literary te*ts are !ull o! li!e" It is a world )reated by te autorsI imagination" Sigurative language is used a
lot, i! not all te time" Jou need to enOoy literary te*t to (rodu)e a good translation"
AAM: )a(i+ ideoloy+ pi..a+ philosophy: these words have been universali.ed and the world is ettin
smaller# What is your e(pectation for the future of translation?
MF: -orrowing words among languages as been tere sin)e te dawn o! istory" Li$e wat you see in
te Englis language" #any o! its words are loan words !rom Latin, Hree$, Sren) and Prabi)" Zersonally,
I would li$e to use as many (ure Kurdis words as (ossible, but we all $now it is not (ossible all te time"
I am somewat in te middle wen it )omes to tis dis)ussion" Sor me it is !ine to use borrowed words
wit our (ronun)iation, but tat does not Ousti!y, to me, wen (eo(le use aw$ward !oreign words Oust to
sound smarter" I do not say te Kurdis language is (oor+ it is Oust tat we ave not been wor$ing on it,
(lus te istory o! o((ression we ave been troug"
Translation will always be needed, I believe" It will be tere until te end o! time" Uust some words, or
even undreds or tousands o! tem, be)oming universal does not mean te need !or translation will !ade
away" Uust loo$ u( te list o! Prabi) words in te Englis language K you may be sur(rised, but tat did
not ma$e Englis (eo(le needless !or translation o! Prabi) language and te oter way around"
0eport$ *uropean &ay of /anuaes+ 1eptember 23#2445#
Morry+ 1# 624457 )he )ranslators Handboo"+ 1chreiber 8ublishin
9ataly ,#+ :ost ;# 624<<7 Found in )ranslation: How /anuae 1hapes =ur /ives and )ransforms the
World+ 8enuin Group >1
M#M Ghali+ 8hd# 624457 )owards >nderstandin )he *ver%Glorious 'uran+ &ar An%9ashr /i!amiat
0om?n @lvare.+ M# -armen Africa Aidal 6<BB37)ranslation+ 8ower+ 1ubversion: Multilinual Matters
Muhammad Fatih Ghareeb raduated from 1lemani >niversityCIraD+ *nlish /anuae &epartment and
holds EA in *nlish lanuae and literature# He currently wor"s as a translatorCinterpreter for an
international 9G= called 1)*8# FHe is passionate about translation# He )hin"s ,urds are in need of
translated wor"s especially scientific boo"s# He has published translated articles on the web# He is also a
bloer: tt('muammad!atigareeb"blogs(ot")om
Aras Ahmed Mhamad is a freelancer# He is the Founder and &eputy *ditor of 1MA0) maa.ine+ an
independent *nlish maa.ine that focuses on G/iterature+ /anuae+ 1ociety# He is the )op 1tudent of
-ollee of /anuaes at the &epartment of *nlishC >niversity of Human &evelopment+ 24<2# He is a
columnist for the ,urdistan )ribune and a contributin writer for the e"urd#net and He is
the -ultural Analyst at the ,urdish 0eview 9ewspaper+ the only ,urdish%American newspaper in print# He
is also the *ditor in -hief of the 1orani section at the
Translation: both art and science
Mar 17, 2008
Bill Mounce
Good translation is not merely the ability to apply all the appropriate rules of
grammar to a passage but the ability to go behind the words and learn from
the context what the writer actually means by what he says. If the sign
says, Do not throw lighted objects from a moving vehicle it simply will not
do to stop the car and throw your cigarette out the window. or will it do to
!eep moving and drop it rather than throw it. "e recogni#e this is normal
situations but often forget it in $iblical passages. %erhaps &atthew '(') can
serve as an example.
*he Gree! text transliterates literally as, +esus but the man of her,
righteous being and not wishing her to disgrace wanted secretly to divorce
her. It is apparent that changes need to be made to turn this into a
readable sentence in ,nglish.
-ome changes are easy. *he de .but/ often carries little weight0 it could be
and or even dropped from the translation. 1i!ewise, the man of her
becomes her man, or in this situation, her fiance. $ut wait, where did
fiance come from2 *he Gree! aner .man/ ta!es its meaning from the
context 3 he was in fact her fiance. *he legal engagement had ta!en place.
4ther 5uestions are a bit more difficult. "hat does it mean that +oseph was
di!aios .righteous/2 %robably that he was the sort of man who did the right
thing in every situation. 6nd what would the right thing be2 7ere is where
the 5uestion branches out. 4ne possibility is that being a good man, who
always did what was right, is that he felt sorry for &ary in her embarrassing
situation so he decided to ta!e care of the problem in a way that would
cause her the least humiliation. 8ighteous men .read just, good, !ind/ act in
that way.
$ut there is another possibility. $eing righteous or just in that first century
situation would normally mean to be careful to always following the law.
Deuteronomy 99(9:;9< says that a betrothed virgin, should a man lie with
her, is to be stoned to death. -o the right thing .from a purely legal
perspective/ would be to have &ary stoned. 7owever, +oseph did not want
to humiliate her. *hat &ary=s condition was the result of the intervention of
the 7oly -pirit had not yet been to revealed to him .it came in a dream, cf.
v. 9>/. -o +oseph is faced with two possibilities, stoning of his wife so as to
fulfill the law, or finding someway to annul the engagement privately. *his
understanding of the text would yield a translation such as, 6nd +oseph, her
fiancee, although he was .ta!ing on as a concessive participle/ a man who
was careful to carry out the law, nevertheless .!ai ta!en as a contrastive
conjunction/ did not want to disgrace her so he laid plans to divorce her
6lthough this choice is not as simple as whether or not to stop the car in
order to get rid of a burning object, it does show that meaning is not
always so apparent that you can arrive at it by merely parsing the words.
*ranslation is an art that re5uires understanding.
3 $ob &ounce