quotations related to translation

20 quotes about translation

Discover the best quotes about translation and translators. You’ll dazzle your friends and impress your fellow translators!

Our translation agency has selected 20 quotes on translation as well as quotes on translators.

Translating is producing analogous effects with different implements.

Paul Valéry

The ideal reader is a translator. He or she can pull a text to pieces, remove its skin, cut it to the bone, follow each artery and vein and thence fashion a new living being.

Alberto Manguel

Writers make national literature, while translators make universal literature.

Jose Saramago

Translating from one language to another is the most delicate of intellectual exercises; compared to translation, all other puzzles, from bridge to crosswords, seem trivial and vulgar. To take a piece of Greek and put it in English without spilling a drop; what a nice skill!

Cyril Connolly

Without translation, we would be living in provinces bordering on silence.

George Steiner

Translating is always about making sacrifices; however, nothing essential should be sacrificed.

Enrique Diez-Canedo

If the translator does his job as he should, he is a benefactor of humanity; otherwise he is a veritable public enemy.

Miguel Saenz

Firstly, a translator is a person with no rights, only duties. He must show loyalty to the author like a dog, but as a special dog who behaves like a monkey.” If I’m not mistaken, Mauriac wrote: “The novelist is God’s monkey.”  Well, the translator is the novelist’s monkey. He is obliged to pull the same faces, like it or not.

Maurice E. Coindreau

Translation says the unsayable twice, once in another language.

Rachel Blau DuPlessis

Translation is one of the few human activities where the impossible occurs by principle.

Mariano Antolín Rato

…don’t…be under any delusions about translating being more creative than critical writing − in the sense that nothing in my experience involves so much drudgery, minute application, exasperation at being tied to another’s thought processes. Great self-discipline is needed if one is to be a faithful interpreter and not fall into the temptation of ‘improving’ one’s original.

Betty Radice

The translator is the author’s accomplice.

Jorge Gonzalez Moore

…by nature, translation is an interpretation. There is no such thing as objective translation because there is a person doing the translation. When I say “by nature”, this means it is neither good nor bad, merely that it is a fact of the order of existence. So what should be expected of a translation? Not only that it should be faithful, but also consistent, meaning that it should be readable and make sense. A practical read.

André Markowicz

If the translation respects the original, it may, and even should, be able to hold a dialog with it, face-to-face and hold its own. The aspect of respect does not mean destroying what is respected.

Jean-Yves Masson

If the translator neither copies nor restores an original it is because this survives and becomes something else. The translation in fact becomes a moment in its own evolution, and the original is fulfilled even as it grows within the translation. However, this growth should not […] lead to any specific form in any particular direction. Growth must be met, completed and fulfilled. […] And if the original claims a complement this is because originally it was not there without shortcomings, full, complete, total, identical to itself.

Jacques Derrida

It is the task of the translator to release in his own language that pure language that is under the spell of another, to liberate the language imprisoned in a work in his re-creation of that work.

Walter Benjamin

The translator is a privileged writer who has the opportunity to rewrite masterpieces in their own language.

Javier Marías 

As an interpreter, you create nothing, for you are a mere sculpture.

Anxo Perez

Translators are horses changed at the posthouses of civilization.


Translating means having the honesty to stick to an allusive imperfection.

Michel Leiris

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This article has been written by Mathieu

Mathieu was born in the French-speaking part of Switzerland. After studying Literature and Linguistic Research, he moved to Argentina where he is currently a translator and a web editor.