Can translation be regarded as re telling with examples

Can translation be regarded as re telling with examples

Translating words from one language to another is only one aspect of the intricate and varied process that is translation. Since a translator must ensure that a source text reads as though it was produced in the target language while also conveying the content, subtleties, and cultural context of the original work, it might be considered a type of re-telling.

Can translation be regarded as re telling with examples

I. Translation as Retelling: An Synopsis

Linguistic Transformation:

Fundamentally, translation is the process of converting a text from one language to another while preserving its intent, style, and meaning. Since the translator recreates the original text in the target language, this transformation is ultimately a kind of re-telling.

Cultural Adaptation:

Translation extends beyond linguistic conversion to include cultural adaptation. A translator must navigate the cultural nuances and references in the source text to ensure they are accurately conveyed in the target language. 

Can translation be regarded as re telling with examples-This cultural adaptation is a crucial element of re-telling.

Interpretation and Creativity:

Translators are, to some extent, interpreters and creative writers. They must make decisions about how best to express the source text's meaning, considering the nuances of the target language and the cultural expectations of the readers.

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II. Linguistic Transformation: From One Language to Another

Translation fundamentally involves the transformation of a text from the source language (SL) to the target language (TL). The goal is to ensure that the meaning, tone, and style of the source text are preserved in the translated version. Here are some examples to illustrate this linguistic transformation:

Literal Translation:

In certain instances, a translation could adhere closely to the original text's organisation and phrasing. For example, translating "I love you" from English into French as "Je t'aime" preserves the meaning and structure of the original sentence.

Translating Idioms:

Translating idiomatic expressions can be challenging. For instance, the English idiom "It's raining cats and dogs" would not make sense in many other languages. A skilled translator would find an equivalent idiom or expression in the target language.

Preserving Formality:

The formality of a source text can vary, and a good translation considers this aspect. For instance, if the source text uses formal language to address the reader, the translation should mirror that formality if appropriate in the target culture.

III. Cultural Adaptation: Conveying Cultural Nuances

Culture plays a significant role in how meaning is conveyed in language. Translators must adapt the source text to the cultural context of the target audience. Here are some examples of cultural adaptation in translation:

Food and Cuisine:

Consider a source text describing a traditional Japanese meal. A skilled translator would not merely list the dishes but would provide explanations and descriptions that make sense to readers from a different culture.

Names and Titles:

Names and titles are often culture-specific. For instance, translating a Japanese honorific like "san" into English might involve conveying the respect it implies, which may not be done directly but can be reflected through the use of appropriate titles or honorifics in English.

Religious and Ritual References:

Many texts contain references to religious practices or rituals. Translators must ensure that these references are accurately represented in the target language while respecting the religious or cultural sensitivities of the readers.

IV. Interpretation and Creativity: The Art of Re-Telling

Translation is not a mechanical process but an art that requires interpretation and creativity. Translators make decisions about how best to convey the source text's meaning, taking into account the nuances of the target language. Here are some examples of interpretation and creativity in translation:

Literal vs. Figurative Language:

Translating figurative language, such as metaphors and similes, can be challenging. For example, translating the metaphor "Time flies" from English to Spanish might involve using a different metaphor, such as "El tiempo se escapa" (Time escapes).

Tone and Register:

Translators must consider the tone and register of the source text and find appropriate equivalents in the target language. For instance, a source text written in a humorous, informal tone should be translated with similar humor and informality in mind.

Preserving Style and Voice:

Some texts have a distinctive style and voice, often associated with the author's unique writing style. Translators must strive to maintain this style in the target language to ensure that the author's voice is not lost in translation.

V. Challenges in Translation as Re-Telling

While translation can be a form of re-telling, it is not without its challenges. Some of the key challenges include:

Untranslatable Words and Concepts:

Some words and concepts are unique to a particular language and culture, making them difficult to translate directly. For example, the Danish word "hygge" encapsulates a sense of coziness and contentment that is challenging to convey in one word in many other languages.

Cultural Differences:

Cultural references, customs, and social norms can vary significantly between languages. Translators must navigate these differences to ensure that the translated text is culturally relevant and sensitive to the target audience.

Maintaining Nuance:

Capturing the nuances and subtleties of a source text can be challenging, especially when a word or phrase has multiple meanings or connotations. Translators must make choices that preserve as much of the nuance as possible.

Maintaining Flow and Readability:

Translated texts must read naturally in the target language. Achieving this while staying faithful to the source text can be a delicate balance.

VI. Creative Translation and Adaptation

Creative translation goes beyond the mere transfer of words from one language to another. It involves re-telling a story or conveying a message in a way that resonates with readers in the target language and culture. Creative translation often requires the translator to make choices that prioritize the impact and effectiveness of the text over a strict word-for-word rendering. Here are some examples of creative translation and adaptation:

Cultural References:

Consider a novel that includes references to a specific holiday that is not celebrated in the target culture. A creative translator might replace the holiday reference with a more familiar cultural reference, ensuring that the meaning and impact are retained.


Translating wordplay, such as puns or double entendres, is a creative challenge. A translator may need to come up with new wordplay that works in the target language or find a creative solution that captures the humor or wit of the original.

Cultural Context:

When translating a text set in a different historical or cultural context, the creative translator must ensure that the text feels authentic and relatable to the target audience. This might involve modifying historical references or descriptions to resonate with the reader's cultural background.

Emotion and Tone:

Creative translation aims to convey the emotional impact and tone of the source text. For instance, a dramatic or poignant passage should evoke the same emotions in the target-language reader, even if the words are different.

VII. The Role of the Translator

The translator plays a pivotal role in the process of translation as re-telling. They must carefully consider the source text, its cultural and linguistic nuances, and the needs and expectations of the target audience. The role of a translator encompasses several key responsibilities:

Understanding the Source Text:

Translators must thoroughly understand the source text, including its content, context, style, and cultural references.

Adapting to the Target Audience:

Translators need to consider the characteristics of the target audience, including their language proficiency, cultural background, and expectations.

Choosing the Right Words:

Selecting the appropriate words and phrases in the target language is a crucial aspect of translation. This requires linguistic skill, a rich vocabulary, and cultural sensitivity.

Maintaining Consistency:

Translators must ensure that the translated text maintains consistency in terms of style, tone, and terminology.

Preserving the Spirit of the Text:

The translator's goal is to capture the essence and spirit of the source text, ensuring that the emotional and intellectual impact is retained.

VIII. Re-Telling in Literary Translation

Literary translation is a particularly rich domain for exploring the concept of translation as re-telling. In literary translation, the translator often works with works of fiction, poetry, or drama, where narrative voice, character development, and cultural context are crucial. Here are some examples of re-telling in literary translation:

Translating Classic Literature:

Translating classic works of literature, such as "War and Peace" by Leo Tolstoy or "One Hundred Years of Solitude" by Gabriel García Márquez, requires the translator to capture the depth of character development and the complexity of the narrative in the target language.

Retaining Narrative Voice:

A skilled literary translator must maintain the narrative voice of the author. For example, the distinctive narrative voice of Mark Twain in "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" should be preserved in the target language.

Conveying Cultural Nuances:

Works of literature often contain cultural references and historical context that are integral to the narrative. The translator must find ways to convey these nuances effectively, ensuring that the reader in the target language understands the cultural backdrop.

Capturing Wordplay and Literary Devices:

Literary works often feature wordplay, literary devices, and symbolism. The translator must re-create these elements in the target language to maintain the depth and richness of the original text.


It is true that translation is a type of storytelling. Beyond just swapping over words for ones in another language, it entails a sophisticated process of linguistic transformation, cultural adaptation, interpretation, and invention. As a storyteller, the translator's job is to distil the essence of the original text and retell it in a way that engages readers in the target language and culture while maintaining the text's content, style, and cultural context.

Can translation be regarded as re telling with examples-We looked at a number of translation-related topics in this post, such as linguistic modification, cultural adaptation, interpretation, and innovation. We gave examples to show that translation is more than just translating words; it also includes preserving narrative voice in literary works, conveying cultural subtleties, and modifying diverse media formats for distinct target audiences.

A key component of this process is the translator's job, which calls for fluency in the target language, in-depth knowledge of the original material, cultural sensitivity, and the capacity to make original decisions while being true to the original work. Translation acts as a bridge to promote cross-cultural understanding, communication, and the richness of global literary and cultural traditions in a world marked by linguistic and cultural variety.

Translating is an art that makes the world a richer and more connected place, not just a useful talent. Through sharing the narratives, concepts, and voices of many languages and cultures, it fosters cross-cultural understanding and a greater respect of global variety. 

Can translation be regarded as re telling with examples-Translation, as re-telling, is therefore essential to promoting understanding between people and broadening the boundaries of human knowledge and empathy.


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