Orthofer was a great interview subject, and the feature came out great, I think. Fascinating stuff. Here’s a snippet:
To what extent can you forgive a bad translation of a good book? And can you see the quality peeking through?
M.A. Orthofer: A bit of forgiveness is always necessary: the process of translation always seems to entail some (and often a lot of) loss, and there are many days and books where I think it’s only a matter of…degrees of badness. My personal preference is for a more literal translation, where you can ‘hear’ the original (language) through the translation, as it were, even if that can sound awkward in English. Most publishers and editors (and, I guess, translators) prefer to English (or Americanize) the texts, which I suppose makes them more readable–though when the approach goes wrong the results can be pretty disastrous. (What I find more problematic, however, is when there is more extensive editorial interference at the translation stage, and books are ‘reshaped’ (generally by trimming away a lot) for the English-language market–Wang Gang’s English is one example from last year’s crop of books.)