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Poetry Translation Hurdles and How to Overcome Them

We all love poetry. The use of subtle words combined with precision in a pattern is what makes them so appealing. No wonder Shakespeare’s poems have been translated into multiple languages all over the world! People just had to sample his great works! Today, poetry translation has become a booming industry as more and more prolific poets emerge. Not only do they bring with them an artistic talent, but also pass their message subconsciously in their poems, and we never realize how they provoke a new school of thought till much later on!

Ideally, we want to have a situation where when we translate poems, the tone, meaning, and structure of the poem is retained in the new language! And this is where it gets difficult! Unlike translation for articles or professional content, poetry translation is complex because you’ll find that very few poets actually follow the grammatical structure of their native language. To them, poetry is a form of artistic expression. So they have the freedom to alter the language as they please! In this case, it will be useful to know more about patent translation. For a regular translator, this can prove to be hell on earth! But for expert poetry translation service providers such as ourselves, we thrive under this pressure. In fact, we have mastered unique techniques to make the translation process much easier!

Importance of Poetry Translations

As we have seen, poems are proving to be masterpieces that transcend international boundaries. It is for this reason that translating poems has become increasingly important. Hence, we need to undertake the process due to the following reasons:

  • As a form of entertainment. Poems are entertaining! Especially when the writer hits the nail on the head with his or her delivery! Though the television and electronic audiovisual media have become the main source of entertainment in our homes, some people prefer to cherish their artistic origins by sampling poems here or there! In fact, you’ll find that poets command just as much respect as scriptwriters due to their ability to produce compelling and engaging content.
  • To explore each other’s cultures. You will find more often than not, poets will discuss their origins as well as discuss critical aspects of their culture within their poems. They may mention an activity that is synonymous with their country of origin; as well as discussions on multiple issues facing their culture as well!
  • To acknowledge the works of a famous poet. Some poets, such as Shakespeare, have had their works withstood the test of time and still present with us today! To honor his memory and his ingenious work, his poems have been read and translated into multiple languages around the world!
  • To give a poet a wider audience. Translating poems helps a poet expand his or her fan base and ultimately reach a larger audience with their compelling content!

Difficulties Faced during Poetry Translations

Despite the importance of poetry translation, undertaking it is no easy affair! In fact, here are some of the most common issues translators face during the process:

  • Word structure. Word structure is one of the most complex areas that a translator must face when regarding poetry translation. That’s because a translator can usually come across three unique case scenarios:
  • Case 1. The words he or she is translating from one language
    poetry translation difficulties

    Image credit: k-international.com

    does not exist in another. This can be especially stressful because the translator may be backed into a corner and may opt for a way out by finding the nearest substitute word. Alternatively, he may omit the word or phrase altogether.

  • Case 2. The word or phrase does not make sense when translated from one language to another. This can be as a result of the way colloquiums change from one language to another.
  • Case 3. The word may have more than one meaning in one language, but not so for the language being translated to. So what does the translator do in this case? Yet again, they have to compromise.
  • Retention of meaning. The most important part of a poem is its ability to retain the meaning and purpose that it was intended for. In fact, keeping the rhythm is one of the most fundamental roles of the translation process! However, doing so requires diligence and great knowledge of knowing how to translate effectively!
  • Use of phrases and expressions (The Chinese poetry problem). Here, it gets a little tricky. As you know, a majority of languages that differ greatly from one another such as Chinese and English developed in isolation. Hence, for translations to be effectively done, one has to have a strong command of both languages. In fact, Chinese to English poems translation is considered to be one of the most difficult because of how idiomatic expressions, as well as phrases, vary greatly from one another! But with our Chinese poetry translation service, you can forget about these complexities while we handle them. We will also connect you with the best online Chinese translator who is well versed in Classical Chinese poetry!

An Example of a Failed Poetry Translation

We’ll have a look at the complexities of poetry translation with a poem entitled Albanian Dirt. The poem was conceived by Dhimiter Pasko, whose pseudonym was Mitrush Kuteli. He was born in Pogradec which lies in the south-eastern part of Albania around 1907. Living in a time of supreme regime, he (like every other talent back then) was sent to a labor camp but narrowly avoided execution because translators were highly required at that time!

So here is the poem in Albanian with an English translation:

poetry translation example

Now, we will have a look at one word that is of great importance, and that is BALTË. In Albanian, this word has quite a number of meanings

  • Soil, earth, mud
  • Sludge, silt, clay
  • A cheap or disgraceful thing
  • Native land

Now, you can clearly see that in the Albanian context, the writer is referring to Bale as his native land. But in the English context, dirt is translated to mean earth, soil, or filth. In the second stanza of the Albanian poem, you can also see that the author uses the word DUA which in Albanian means love, like, a need or a want. But as you can see in the English translation, the poet has used the phrase relating to because of difficulties in translation. Anyone versed in both English and Albanian can see the stark differences between the two translations.

importance of translating poems

Tips on How to Cope with Difficulties of Poetry Translation

To cope with such difficulties when it comes to poetry translation, here are some great tips you should keep in mind:

  • Cultivate relaxation. As is the norm, your thinking process tends to be less linear and more explorative when you are in a relaxed state. So heat up some coffee, cross your feet, be in a relaxed mental state, and then begin with the translation! This way, you can keep the translation rhyming!
  • Assume there is a solution even if there is none. It’s always good to be positive even if you are at a dead end. Remember, each language is unique and quite wide, so if you feel there are no possible solutions to a given translation; then my friend, is not a native! There is always a translation for every word and phrase out there!
  • Memorize your translation first. One of the best things to do is to always memorize the poem that you are translating before beginning the actual translation. This will help you conceptualize the translation much easier rather than going line by line which may break the link of style, rhyming, and tone!
  • Discuss the poem and translation with as many people as possible. It’s always great as a poetry translator to try out the translation with some native speakers and get their thoughts and sentiments concerning the translations you have just made. Their advice can really set you on the right track!

And there you have it! With this tips, you can make your poetry translation much better. We also offer other essential services when it comes to your poems such as editing and proofreading. In fact, we are considered the best translator for Chinese poetry online! You will also receive added benefits such as unlimited revisions, 24/7 customer support, as well as a money-back guarantee if the content does not meet your high-quality specifications. Furthermore, you can also get a patent translation be done for you with our wide range of services!

So get in touch with us for all services regarding detailed poetry translation and we will immediately attend to your request!

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