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Translation & Rainfall

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Alireza Yazdunpanuh Consider an ocean, deep and blue. The sun shines bright. The water in the ocean evaporates up into the sky. Gradually, clouds are formed and winds take them away, far into another territory. Once the vapor is cold and dense, it falls down in the form of rain. Some of the droplets fall over the salty rocks. Some go deep into the earth. Some fall directly into the sea. Among those that flow on the ground, some-raindrops unite to form streams; streams unite to form rivers, and rivers finally join another ocean with different characteristics, but the same essence.

The first ocean is analogous to the whole knowledge of the source-text nation (or linguistic territory/language). The limited amount of water evaporated is the source text; the process of evaporation is the process of comprehension of the ST by the translator, the clouds are what the source text creates in the translator's mind; the geographical movement of the clouds is the shift from one linguistic territory into another (again, within the translator's mind); the rainfall is the process of putting abstract meaning into words of the target language.


  1. There is no "bad translation" if it is genuine. There can be, however, poor ones.
  2. There can never be machine-translators in the sense that there are, for example, machine chess players.

  3. There can be no definition of good translation unless the user and the total circumstance under which he/she is using the translated text are specified.

  4. Instead of arguing over priority of form over content, etc. translator training courses should focus on developing comprehension skills in the source language and writing/speaking skills in the target one. These courses should be much more flexible and include flexibility as an intrinsic part of the course material. I dare say, a single method cannot be specified as the "best" not only for a single literary genre, but even for a single literary work or even a single page of that work! Didn't you see that every snowflake has its own unique shape, all of them beautiful?




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