Reflections and Dilemmas of a Translator: Translating "Untranslatable" Words

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Renata Martini Kristo, Markeliana Anastasi


This article will deal with a special and problematic argument of translation practice: the translation of those so-called untranslatable words, as well as try to shed some light on the translation of all those terms and concepts that are characterized by cultural nuances, or as we know other  culturemes. Especially when faced with an editorial translation, the translator knows that the first way to have a satisfactory result is this: every translation is like placing a bet with the author's intentions. In other words, a perfect translation is impossible to achieve, even in the best case, the result of our efforts will always be an approximation. Of course, there are almost perfect approximations and other controversial ones, but it is always about approximations. The concept of fidelity is never an absolute concept, but a relative one: it is related to the text, to the moment when we translate, to the translator himself. We are talking, of course, about general rules. Fortunately, there are always exceptions.  But if we remain within the scope of the general rule, we can say that this type of doubt (to approach? To move away? To soften it? Not to soften it?) becomes more frequent when we are asked to translate the so-called "cultural factors", this category, broad and not easily grasped, and this is exactly where we can include the culturemes.

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