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An Example of Creative Translation

Last Updated On: August 31, 2021 by The Migration Translators

An Example of Creative Translation
An Example of Creative Translation
Last updated:October 12th, 2014 by The Migration Translators

Often, translators do not just translate everyday text from one language into another, but they have to engage in being particularly creative. Some translators call this transcreation or creative translation. It is mostly used when there is a word in one language that has no real equivalent in another. What does the NAATI accredited translator do when this sort of situation arises in a piece of text they are required to translate?

An extreme example of the challenges of transcreation, fortunately, one that the ordinary NAATI translation service rarely has to worry about, is the translation of some of the so-called nonsense poems of Lewis Carroll. “Jaberwocky”, for instance, was a typical nonsense poem written by Carroll in English intended to be read by children. Despite the fact that many of the words used in the poem do not exist in the English language their meaning can be understood or at least the sense of the words in the poem can be understood.

Carroll’s poems have been translated into many other languages, including “Jaberwocky”, and you can be sure that the translators found the translation of the nonsense words, in particular, quite challenging – creative translation at its best!

There are at least two different ways in which these words are translated from the original language into another: the first is to translate the nonsense words more or less literally by using the root of each word and retaining the pronunciation. This approach doesn’t seem to be quite so successful, as the result in the translated language loses the meaning of the original word.

The second approach is to concoct a word in the translated language which gives the reader a feeling of the meaning of the original word, even if this new word itself doesn’t really exist. An example from Jaberwocky is the translation of the word “mimsy” from English into Spanish. “Mimsy” may be a combination of the two English words “miserable and “flimsy”. One creative translator has made up the Spanish equivalent as “misebil”, which is a combination of the two Spanish words “miserable” and “debil” (or weak).

A good certified translation service is expected to be able to use their creative powers every now and again even if they don’t have to translate poems like Lewis Carroll’s every day.