How Creative Translation Avoids Gender Bias

Translation can be a tricky business when trying to pick the correct words and portray the correct feelings, especially when it comes to a creative work, such as a classic novel or poem. This translation involves conveying notions, perceptions, and convictions in another language.

How You See It

A work of art is one part portrayal (what the creator wants you to see), and one part interpretation (what you believe to see), whether it is a painting, a poem, or a play that is being studied. When it comes to translating a work, the translator has the job of representing the original author’s message, yet we know that there are some words which have no direct partner in another language. It is at this point that the translator must look at the intent and the tone, in order to choose the closest substitution possible.

Bias In A Classic

Avoiding gender bias in literary translation might not be as easy as assumed, but it is something that requires thought.

How do you keep bias out of the equation when it comes to translating a classic written by one gender and translated by another? This is the burning question when it comes to a work such as The Odyssey by Homer. First translated in French by a woman in 1716, it was often criticized for her empathetic portrayal of the female characters; of course, she was a lone wolf “in a world of male writers” and translators. Yet, works by male translators became highly praised, though they took generous liberties with words that held no such implication in Homer’s original.

Avoiding gender bias in literary translation might not be as easy as assumed, but it is something that requires thought. Emily Wilson, who is the first woman to translate The Odyssey into English, points out that “all translations involve a process of interpretation” and that one can only strive to be “responsible to [the] readers and to the English language, as well to the language of Homer, and to the poem’s ethical complexity [and] literary form.”

So, when it comes to a creative work of art, bias might play its own role in a story, but we can only hope that the translator stays as close to what the original author intended as possible.

The Business Side of Translation

Fact and fiction are two different sides of life. When it comes to business, it is imperative that translations are non-biased and straightforward. Though some liberties might be taken with a creative piece, many professional documents are different. We know that keeping the appropriate lines of communication open are important, especially in fields such as Human Resources and Marketing, which can impact business productivity, performance, and results.

At ITC Translations, our team strives for professional and accurate translations of the highest quality. We are proud that our company is women-led and we understand the importance of honesty and integrity in translation without gender bias. Wherever you are, and whatever needs translating, contact us today for the professional and non-biased assistance that you deserve.

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