It has been noted by some of our experienced translators that translation is a type of art. Evidently, this process takes years of experience but once it is mastered, it can be most exciting for a translator. Literally, what a translator does, is he/she converts a picture in one language and paints it with the words of the other language. This process takes creativity and imagination as the translator must think.
What a translator is doing when they are translating, is actually interpreting a message, figuring out what it means in one language and then they are translating it into another language. Most of the time translation is not done literally There are some words that translate literally like numbers and maybe some health and safety processes and procedures. The second you get outside of a process or a procedure things are not literal anymore. Even some words in French that are very well known like “faux amis” (which means “false friends”) if translated literally may mean something completely different.
Essentially, translation is an art because the translator is trying to figure out what is meant in one language and then is basically painting a picture of what is meant in the other language. When you are dealing with different cultures and ethnicities, you are really translating a message and what is intended from the speaker into the new culture with now adding on a layer of cultural sensitivity. We’ve all heard of the recent US presidency and his remarks. There are actually a few times where he was saying some things that the interpreter just could not translate what he said because it would be an absolute offense to a person of the other language. So the translator would have had to creatively come out with a way to communicate his message to the target audience without slandering the person who was saying it. The Translator has to reflect on the actual meaning and intentions of the person for whom is being translated before interpreting the message. A translator really has to understand a message and then paint that picture in the target language so that it comes across with the intended meaning vs the literal meaning.
That’s why we believe that translation is an art because it gives a translator the opportunity to paint the picture of what they believe is the meaning of this other one. And this is subjective, many translators may translate a message differently. Sometimes is very difficult to even understand what people mean in a native language in English and never mind translating it into another language. Translating something is definitely a creative process and the more we understand the writer’s intended words what they really want to say the easier would be to paint that picture in the target language. But it still requires an enormous amount of creativity because some things just don’t translate.