One of the most important activities is communication, it takes the second rank after the basic needs in humans’ lives. Every community share the same language that gives them a sense of belonging and enables them to communicate with each others. Because of social, economic, and literary developments and because of immigration and wars, translation has become an integral part in human’s lives. Actually, translation facilitated the communication with other societies and cultures. But despite of the existence of many programs and modern technologies that contribute in translation, human translation remains more accurate and skillful.
While translation devices only translate the words, humans get the concept of the message. In other words, with a human translator the essence of the content is retained, because they aware of the native vernaculars, cultural sensitivities, idiomatic and tone phrases and this is impossible with a translation machine. In this article I will expose the characteristics that a good literary translator must own in terms of being able to speak more than one language, having a good background of the other cultures, being expert in linguistics, having a good experience in writing.
Being fluent in speaking more than one language is one of the most important features of a good translator. The understanding of the source language should be near native level knowledge. This makes the quality of the translation higher and the translation process easier. Thus a successful translator need to understand all meanings, including all the subtle nuances in the text. However, he or she must have a wide vocabulary, not only in the foreign language but also in the mother tongue. This actually faciliates translation process and gives a high quality translation. Furthermore, a good translator aims to express the exact meaning of the text as clearly as possible, and this couldn’t work with non-bilingual translator.
Having a good background of the other cultures is an important feature of a successful translator. Because the culture is an integrate part of the language, the ability to translate a work requires a wide knowledge of the cultural context. For instance, the word by word translation of the English phrase “it is raining cats and dogs” cannot give the same meaning in Turkish language. Therefore, the importance of the good translator appears in his ability to deliver the intended idea of the text rather than literal translation. Furthermore, every culture has its own beliefs, attitudes, and religion that reflected in its language in one way or another. Thus besides mastering the language, a good translator must be familiar with the traditions of the other societies, being able to pick up the relationship between language and culture and produce translation with greater accuracy.
A good translator should be expert in linguistics. Actually, linguistics is not just about translation, it can be anything involving the scientific analysis of language: its history, its structure, dialects, its change over time, the relations between languages, the use of language in different contexts, second language acquisition, sounds of language, etc. These are all branches in linguistics. So, a successful translator should have a specific linguistic education, and should master not only the foreign language he or she work with, but also the skills of translation. A good translator’s goal, should ley in expressing the idea of the source text without ambiguity as clearly as possible. And avoiding difficult structures when he or she can use simple ones. Thus studying linguistics can give the translator big benefits that reveal clearly in their works as a professional ones.
A successful translator should have a good experience in writing, because his or her writings will be reading by intended audience. Thus the translator’s job is to go beyond the words themselves, and not only convey the meaning of the original text. This requires writing in such a way that makes a reader believes the document was written in his or her own language. It also includes transmitting the appropriate register and tone. Even if the meaning is transmitted accurately, translating a formal document in an informal way or vice versa may avoid the reader from understanding the exact meaning of the text. Furthermore it would not leave the reader with the impression that the writer originally intended.